Amanda Shirey  -  Source: Canva/Amanda Shirey

Amanda Shirey

Source: Canva/Amanda Shirey

See all our School Bus Fleet Trailblazers of 2024 in this article.

Amanda Shirey

Age: 38

Works for: Centreville Public Schools

Role: Transportation Director

Describe a day in your professional life.

Shirey: Some days are a breeze, and some are total chaos. My day begins at 3:30 a.m. by checking the weather to find out what conditions look like in case I need to go out and drive the district. Once I arrive at work, I begin checking voicemails and emails. I act as dispatch while drivers are on their routes and advise them as calls come in. Unless I'm needed to drive a route, of course. Between routes, I'm usually working on payroll, trip assignments, fixing minor bus issues, watching camera footage for behavioral issues, and doing what I can to facilitate the smooth running of the department and drivers' needs. At dismissal, I act as dispatch once again and stay until all routes are finished.

What brought you to the transportation industry?

Shirey: Honestly, the school that my kids were going to at the time kept asking and asking, so I finally gave in. There were times during that first year that I questioned whether or not it was for me because I had some pretty tough situations thrown at me. However, I persevered, our family moved, and I began driving for the same school that several generations of my family, including myself, graduated from.

What’s something critical that you’ve learned during your time in the student transportation industry?

Shirey: Empathy. When you see a child act a certain way at the grocery store, you might think that they're just being rotten. As a bus driver, you see the bigger picture, what environment the child comes from, you see some of the family interaction, and you overhear their conversations with friends. You come to realize that maybe the reason the child acts the way that they do is because of the example that has been set for them. They may not know any better way to behave or have not been taught what is and isn't acceptable. That's when you can start to build relationships with them and, slowly but surely, start to change their outlook and attitude for the better.

What’s your advice for someone considering a career in this industry?

Shirey: There are a few "musts" in student transportation:

  1. Have a sense of humor.
  2. You have to genuinely love working with children from diverse backgrounds.
  3. Understand that just because a student pushes against you or your rules, it does not mean that it is personal.
  4. You don't have to love getting up early or going to bed late, the cold or the heat, but you have to love driving.
  5. Be a flexible team player. Don't be the guy who hogs all of the hours or the guy who never offers to help. We're all on this bus together!

 

About the author
Wes Platt

Wes Platt

Executive Editor

Wes Platt joined Bobit in 2021 as executive editor of School Bus Fleet Magazine. He writes and edits content about student transportation, school bus manufacturers and equipment, legislative issues, maintenance, fleet contracting, and school transportation technology - from classic yellow diesel buses to the latest EPA-funded electric, propane, and CNG vehicles.

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