20 Fascinating Personalities (Part 1)

<i>SBF</i> staff editors Steve Hirano, Thomas McMahon and Albert Neal
Posted on November 1, 2005
Lenny Bernstein (right) will be pulling lots of strings as the incoming president of the NAPT. Last year, he pulled a bus.
Lenny Bernstein (right) will be pulling lots of strings as the incoming president of the NAPT. Last year, he pulled a bus.

Leonard Bernstein

Transportation Coordinator, Haverstraw-Stony Point Central Schools, Garnerville, N.Y.

Born: Liberty, N.Y.
Home: Grahamsville, N.Y.
Years in industry: 17
Notable previous jobs: I have held positions in the Tri-Valley Central School District and the Ellenville Central School District (both in New York).

How did you get your start in the industry?
I got my start in the industry in a small school district where I also grew up and attended school. I started in food service, and the school needed a person to head up transportation. My boss gave me the opportunity, and I fell in love with the yellow bus business.

Current job duties?
My current job duties as coordinator of transportation and emergency management involve the supervision of the transportation department, which transports 10,000 students daily. My duties also include the implementation and supervision of the emergency preparedness and emergency management for the schools.

Top achievements in life?
My wife and my two sons are what I am most proud of. Professionally, I am proud to have served as president of the New York Association for Pupil Transportation and will be honored to serve as president of the NAPT for the next two years. I am also the president of the Tri-Valley School Board of Education, where I went to school, started my professional career and where my children attend school.

Outside interests?
My interests outside of work include golf, where many people find me on summer afternoons, and watching my sons participate in sports and music programs.

Favorite book or movie?
My favorite series of books is the Clan of the Cave Bear series by Jean Auel. She tells such a creative story in a way that’s fun to read. It’s also interesting to watch the series progress. I also love the movie Shawshank Redemption (I got to like Morgan Freeman’s voice).

Most interesting place you’ve been?
Washington, D.C. The monuments are so inspiring, especially the Lincoln Memorial and the view of the National Mall.

Strangest job you’ve ever had?
Funeral director. It was what I thought was going to be my career when I was first out of college.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I cry during the movie Field of Dreams, especially at the end!

Bob Christian says living on Wisconsin's Horseshoe Lake has its advantages, such as fishing, boating and swimming.

Robert W. Christian

Executive Director, Wisconsin School Bus Association

Born: Neenah, Wis.
Home: Horseshoe Lake, Wis.
Years in industry: 23
Notable previous jobs: Assistant to the president of Schreier Malting Co. in Sheboygan, Wis.

How did you get your start in the industry?
Jerry Prigge of Prigge’s Buses in Sheboygan introduced me to this business.

Current job duties?
I run a three-person office for contractors and school districts and am a registered lobbyist for the state of Wisconsin. I ran a state convention for the past 23 years with an average of 600 attendees. I hold regional meetings, mechanic/ technician clinics, WSBA board meetings, special-needs seminars and driver training.

Top achievements in life?
Lion’s Club Member, board of directors for the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, 4th Degree Knights of Columbus, past member of the Governor’s Council on Highway Safety, past president of the Governor’s Council on Traffic Law Enforcement Committee, member of the Wisconsin Association of Society Executives and former alderman for the city of Sheboygan. Member of the land use committee for the town of Meeme. Member of the state committee for Operation Lifesaver Inc. Most recently, awarded the Wisconsin Association of School Boards’ School Bell Award.

Outside interests?
Activities on Horseshoe Lake, where I live, including boating, swimming and fishing. Also, wine tasting and dining.

Favorite book or movie?
Any Western, but especially the original Stagecoach with John Wayne and Gun Fight at the OK Corral. I simply enjoy the west and how hard life was in those days. My favorite book is anything written by Mark Twain, because life was so exciting back then on the Mississippi River as he described it. Also, Twain wrote with great wisdom.

Most interesting place you’ve been?
The Bayfield area of Wisconsin (the Apostle Islands in northern Wisconsin).

Strangest job you’ve ever had?
Delivered bread in the early 1960s with a delivery truck. Since the bread was fresh, dogs often chased you to get it. Often, the dogs would hop into the back of the delivery truck.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I think I’m the only state director of pupil transportation who isn’t a state employee.

Tim Flood has earned numerous professional accolades but ranks his family as his top achievement.

Tim Flood

Executive Vice President, The Trans Group LLC

Born: New York City
Home: Campbell Hall, N.Y.
Years in industry: 18
Notable previous jobs: Manager of an electronic synthesizer repair shop, owner of a sound and lighting company that provided systems for tour bands and venues, manager of a rock band.

How did you get your start in the industry?
In 1986, I was between jobs in the music industry and saw an ad and thought, “I love kids. It would probably be a blast to drive a school bus.” So I went in the next day and started the process. It was early June, and I figured I would finish off the school year and then go back to another job. John Corr [president of The Trans Group] got hold of my resume and asked me to come on staff full time. I agreed, but said it would only be temporary. Well, I’m still here, 18 years later!

Current job duties?
I’m part of a great team that oversees 11 operations in five counties throughout southern New York. I do whatever it takes to help those I work with accomplish The Trans Group’s mission of “providing safe, efficient and profitable transportation services.”

Top achievements in life?
Professionally, I am honored to be the president of the New York School Bus Contractors Association and a board member of the National School Transportation Association. Truly, though, my most prized achievement is the ongoing experience of parenting three amazingly beautiful children. My world revolves around Ross (15), Paul (8) and Rebecca (5)! They and my wife Mara are what matter most in my life.

Outside interests?
I love watching my kids at their activities! Ross plays hockey on a travel team, so many weekends we are on the road to tournaments somewhere on the East Coast. Paul and Rebecca are both advancing in tae kwon do as well as tap, jazz and ballet.

Favorite book or movie?
Star Wars (the first one) is my favorite because the conflict between good and evil in the world as well as within ourselves is dramatically laid out.

Most interesting place you’ve been?
The strut of a Cessna 172, waiting for the jump master to give me the signal to let go of the strut and deploy a parachute for the first time.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I had hair down to my shoulders when I started this job.

Dale Goby has introduced several innovations to the transportation program at Detroit Public Schools, including lifecycle-costing strategies, anti-idling policies and a model maintenance program.

Dale Goby

Executive Director, Office of Student Transportation, Detroit Public Schools

Born: Raymond, Ill.
Home: Clarkston, Mich.
Years in industry: 29
Notable previous jobs: I was a high school teacher, a university instructor, a teaching research associate for a federally funded research agency and a curriculum consultant before becoming involved in pupil transportation.

How did you get your start in the industry?
I was asked to consolidate administrative positions and combine my duties as the district traffic and safety education administrator/curriculum consultant with the school transportation administrative position, and I took the new job description to the superintendent for approval. I started the next day.

Current job duties?
I’m responsible for providing transportation services for eligible students from the district’s 140,000 students utilizing five terminals (two public, three contractor), approximately 500 school buses, the public transit agency and five taxi cab companies.

Top achievements in life?
I have a lovely wife who tolerates my wide and varied interests and even now can correctly identify the make of buses we see when we travel. I have three children and six grandchildren, all of whom make me quite proud. My son is also a transportation director in a neighboring school district. My children are all successful in their own way, independent of their parents and good parents themselves.

Professionally, I’d count the following among my achievements: instituting a lifecycle-costing approach to purchasing school buses, developing a GPS/GIS system to measure fleet performance and creating a model maintenance program that can be implemented statewide.

Outside interests?
Outside interests include wine tasting, golf and road cycling. I’ve also recently returned to flying, an old interest.

Most interesting place you’ve been?
My wife and I love to go to the California wine country, especially the area around Healdsburg, and the Russian River Valley.

What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
I don’t think I’ve had any strange jobs, but an early job that taught me a lot was operating a spray-painting business with my brother when I was 16 and he was 18. It taught us much about the value of hard work. We put ourselves through college with our earnings.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
When asked this question I always respond the same way. That is, I played a male and female role in our high school play. (It was a small high school.)

Derek Graham and family spend a lot of time together, whether it's traveling to sporting events, church outings or vacation spots.

Derek Graham

Section Chief, Transportation Services, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction

Born: Louisville, Ky.
Home: Cary, N.C.
Years in industry: 21
Notable previous jobs: I have been in pupil transportation since graduate school — first doing research projects, then project manager for our statewide program of computer routing and scheduling and state director since 1995.

Current job duties?
Our section administers the state funding formula for transportation, inspects district buses, designates the school buses to be replaced, coordinates the development of specs and purchase of replacement school buses and supports statewide routing and fleet maintenance systems.

Top achievements in life?
One of the things that I am most proud of professionally is the statewide implementation of the TIMS routing and scheduling software. A lot of things fell into place, and the timing was just right. Districts in North Carolina get computer routing software from the state at no charge, and we have a great group of folks who provide support and training for the system.

Outside interests?
Our family enjoys spending time together — usually on the run. Laura Lee and I spend a lot of time shuttling the kids (Scott, 15, and Elizabeth, 12) to soccer, basketball and church activities. We love spending time at the beach, camping or on the ski slopes.

Favorite book or movie?
One of my favorite movies is O Brother, Where Art Thou? In addition to being very funny and appealing to my sometimes twisted sense of humor, it’s the first movie I have seen where I couldn’t wait to buy the soundtrack.

Most interesting place you’ve been?
I have been to Honduras twice on mission trips with my church — one to build houses and one to do vacation bible school. It was altogether different than being a tourist somewhere, because we were living and working with people in their world. There was only one little glitch where, after a meal, I complimented the pastor’s wife using the word seno (breast) instead of cena (supper).

Strangest job you’ve had?
I sold mint juleps in the stands at the Kentucky Derby. Also, I taught business math to a class of modeling students one summer.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I got free Lasik surgery a few years ago by winning an essay contest sponsored by a radio station.

Click here for Part 2 of "Fascinating Personalities"

Related Topics: Fascinating Personalities, history

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