Management

14 Fascinating Personalities in Pupil Transportation

Thomas McMahon and Nicole Schlosser
Posted on November 14, 2014
Max Christensen and his wife, Lisa, adopted two children from China: Olivia and Isaiah. They are pictured at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Max Christensen and his wife, Lisa, adopted two children from China: Olivia and Isaiah. They are pictured at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Max Christensen
State Director/Executive Officer of School Transportation
Iowa Department of Education

Born: Atlantic, Iowa
Home: Perry, Iowa
Years in industry: 27

How did you get your start in the school bus industry?
It started in a mud hole. I was farming at the time. Another guy, who happened to be the local transportation director, was renting the pasture land on one of the farms where I was renting the crop land. He got stuck with his pickup in a mud hole one day while checking his cows and asked me to pull him out with my tractor, so I did. He offered me a $20 bill for my trouble. I turned it down, instead telling him that perhaps he could someday help somebody else out — a form of “paying it forward.” A year later, he did! He resigned his position as transportation director and recommended me to the superintendent for the position. The rest is history, but I’ll admit there have been days I’ve wondered if I should have just taken the $20!

Current job duties?
Responding to literally every school transportation-related question that comes into our agency. I also develop the yearly curriculum for the annual three-hour training course for the nearly 9,000 school bus drivers in Iowa, and I oversee the school bus inspection process for the 7,500 school buses in our state. With my team, I help to develop school transportation-related legislation and rules, oversee pilot projects and develop other transportation initiatives that are deemed helpful in making students in Iowa safer while riding our buses.

Top achievements?
First and foremost, having the most wonderful and supportive wife in the world, Lisa. Together, our greatest achievement was adopting two wonderful children from China: Olivia and Isaiah. Professionally, leading the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services as president ranks at the top. In Iowa, putting new driver training online and developing electronic inspection reporting.

Most interesting place you’ve been?
China in 2008 and 2011 when getting our kids. The beauty of the country is absolutely breathtaking, the food is awesome, the people are so friendly, and being there makes you so happy, proud and thankful that we live in the United States.

Most interesting or strangest job you’ve had?
I was a radio DJ for a number of years. Loved the job, hated the pay and discovered that “WKRP in Cincinnati” is exactly how most radio stations actually operate!

***

In 1988, Quinton Higgins survived the fiery Carrollton, Kentucky, bus crash. More than 20 years later, he became a school bus driver.
In 1988, Quinton Higgins survived the fiery Carrollton, Kentucky, bus crash. More than 20 years later, he became a school bus driver.

Quinton Higgins
School Bus Driver
Hardin County Schools
Elizabethtown, Kentucky

Born: Elizabethtown, Kentucky
Home: Radcliff, Kentucky
Years in industry: 4

How did you get your start in the school bus industry?
I had lost a job running a mailroom, and I was at home on unemployment. I needed another job. My oldest was getting ready to go to college. Someone at my church said, “You’re good with kids. Why don’t you drive a bus?” I said, “You know I was in the Carrollton bus crash.” [Higgins was one of the survivors of the fiery Carrollton, Kentucky, bus crash that killed 27 people in 1988.]

Then I thought about it. I went to a school bus driver class, and one of the teachers was someone I knew growing up. He helped me through it. That was 2010.

Was it difficult to drive a school bus after having been through the Carrollton crash?
At first, I didn’t give it any thought. The buses we drive now are completely different from what we were in then. [His church group was in a retired school bus that was built just a few days before the critical 1977 federal safety standards for school buses went into effect.] But once on a field trip, I was driving at night, and it hit me. [The Carrollton crash was at night.] It wasn’t initially hard, but I had my moments.

Do you ever talk to people about the Carrollton crash?
Yes. I also help teach bus safety. When they teach at the middle schools, I go and share my story. I tie it into why it’s important to listen to the bus driver. I like talking to eighth graders. That’s the grade I was in when we went on that trip.

What are your interests outside of work?
I’m a strong Christian man. I’m always in church. I’m a youth leader at the church.

What is something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
My approach on my life, and on being a survivor of the Carrollton crash and driving a bus for a living. A lot of people find it so fascinating that I could get behind the wheel of a bus. For me, God has called me. I don’t have a spirit of fear. I just really enjoy driving a bus. I enjoy sharing the story, because it shows that you go through things in life, but you can’t let these things hold you back.

***

Jim Beekman (left) doesn’t get to play golf often, but when he does, he enjoys playing with his three sons.
Jim Beekman (left) doesn’t get to play golf often, but when he does, he enjoys playing with his three sons.

Jim Beekman
General Manager, Transportation
Hillsborough County Public Schools
Tampa, Florida

Born: Portsmouth, Ohio
Home: St. Cloud, Florida
Years in industry: 30+

How did you get your start in the school bus industry?
I began in 1983 as a diesel mechanic for Osceola District Schools [in Kissimmee, Florida]. Diesel buses were starting to make a presence in Florida, and I was certified in diesel repair. Ironically, I had no intentions of staying in the school bus industry but rather was pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. It was a good job that allowed me to pay for my college education, but I ended up getting hooked on it and, 31 years later, I am still a school bus junkie.

What do you consider your top achievement?
Hands down it is my family. We have raised three wonderful sons, two of which are in law enforcement and the third is an environmental engineer. At work, there have been many, but they have all come from the help of an amazing team. I have been blessed having so many awesome people cross my path in life.

What are your interests outside of work?
I love the beach, reading and playing golf. Although I don’t get to play golf often, I love the opportunities that Florida provides to play year-round and the opportunity I get to play with my sons.

Most interesting place you’ve been?
Several years ago, I had the chance to test-drive a bus in Arkansas. On the freeway there was an exit sign that said “Toad Suck, Arkansas.” I took the off-ramp and spent an hour listening to the guy in the gift shop tell (with passion) how it was named. I was sorely disappointed that they were out of T-shirts.

What has been the most interesting or strangest job you’ve had outside of school transportation?
It had to be when I was in high school and was “Scoopy the Clown” for a small ice cream shop that I worked at during the week. Didn’t realize how creepy that was until years later.

Something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
I am an avid cook. There are few people in the transportation industry that are not workaholics. We all need a way to unwind at the end of the day, and mine is in the kitchen cooking dinner.

***

Dawn Coffin, a director of transportation in Maine, has a couple of colorful parrots: a macaw (pictured) and a sun conure.
Dawn Coffin, a director of transportation in Maine, has a couple of colorful parrots: a macaw (pictured) and a sun conure.

Dawn Coffin
Director of Transportation
Maine School Administrative District #37
Harrington, Maine

Born: Rochester, New York
Home: Cherryfield, Maine
Years in industry: 42

How did you get your start in the school bus industry?
There was a big sign outside the bus garage in Lincoln, Maine, that said they needed new drivers. An old man said, “OK, let’s see what you can do.” He walked me over to the line of buses and invited me to climb in and sit in the driver’s seat. I did, feeling quite haughty. He said, “Start ‘er up.” No problem. I shoved in the clutch and turned the key and the gasoline engine came to a low roar. I felt powerful and better than just a person who drove a car. Then the old man (I wish I could remember his name) told me to drive around the bus garage, and I did. I showed him! My head was soaring above the clouds. Then he said, “Back ‘er back in.” I looked at the line of buses and back at the man and said, “You mean there?” He said, “You just drove ‘er outta there.” My heart thudded the whole time and sweat formed on my forehead as I looked at that little hole and felt so large driving a school bus. I threw my right arm around the stainless steel pole just behind my right shoulder and twisted my neck as far as it would go. I put the stick in reverse and slowly slipped the clutch the whole time as I put the giant rear end of that big dumb bus in that undersized cheating hole between two other buses. The old guy said, “Well, school starts just before Labor Day and your run is Mattawamkeag,” and he got off the bus and walked back to his garage.

Top achievement?
The very most important thing is raising the awareness about safety in this district. I work with drivers who have mostly all been in the industry a long time. We train and retrain. They are always thinking of ways to get the message across. They have built a school bus puppet stage and do puppet shows. They started with a marionette called Goonie Bird, a blue fuzzy guy. It’s all about safety.

Outside interests?
I do small upholstery jobs and make accessories, clothing and unique bags. I am an ordained Pentecostal minister.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I play the accordion.

***

World War II veteran Earl Rineer, pictured here by the Delaware River, has been training school bus drivers since 1977.
World War II veteran Earl Rineer, pictured here by the Delaware River, has been training school bus drivers since 1977.

Earl Rineer
Driver Trainer
Sague Bus Service
Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania

Born: Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania
Home: Blue Bell, Pennsylvania
Years in industry: 38

How did you get your start in the school bus industry?
My son Jerry was a dispatcher/driver for Romano’s School Bus Service and needed help. At the time I was volunteering in the wholesale department at Christian Literature Crusade, which was a full-time position. But my son needed help, so I offered to get my license and drive when he needed me. I had driven a fire truck as a volunteer for 15 years, so it was not a big change. After my first year I started to train new drivers. Because I enjoy helping others, I still teach new and recertify current school bus drivers.

Top achievements?
The joy of my life since 1973 has been to share the good news (the gospel of Jesus Christ) with everyone, whether it be in the bus, on the street or in the church. I have had the privilege of serving with World Vision, Christian Literature Crusade, International Students, Philadelphia Bible Society, prisons, hospitals and summer camp for handicapped children.

Most interesting place you’ve been?
In January of 1943, I was called, along with hundreds of other healthy young men, to put down the madman Hitler forever. I spent time at Fort Sill in Oklahoma in artillery training, then did three months of accelerated training as a cadet in the Army Air Force. I was then sent back to the artillery and shipped out to southern France with the 70th Infantry Division (the Trailblazers). We saw action through France and southern Germany. After the war, the Army sent me and two other GIs to run the fire department in the biggest food depot in France at Verdun.

But my greatest adventure was our decision to move to Australia to live and work as immigrants for two years. Our two youngest children traveled with us: Jerry, just out of high school, and Raymond. There is no other country like it, and we enjoyed every minute as we worked and met many great people. Personally I met my savior, Jesus Christ, there and I have been serving His children since then. The blessings have never stopped. After our committed two years “down under,” we decided to continue traveling westward, so we completed our trip around the world.

***

When she’s not overseeing California’s school transportation program, Anna Borges enjoys visiting wineries with friends.
When she’s not overseeing California’s school transportation program, Anna Borges enjoys visiting wineries with friends.

Anna Borges
Supervisor, Office of School Transportation
California Department of Education
West Sacramento, California

Born: Norwalk, California
Home: Sacramento, California
Years in industry: 24

How did you get your start in the school bus industry?
My family has been involved with school transportation since I was born, so it was a natural fit when my mother asked if I would be interested in working part-time as a bus driver. I was attending college and wanted a job, not realizing that this path would turn into a long-lasting career. I actually started driving a transit bus, became a state certified instructor and manager, and then became the East/West Coast safety director for one of the largest contractors.

What are your current job duties?
I support the safe operation of efficient and effective transportation programs through training curriculum and data, including school bus, school pupil activity bus, transit bus and farm labor vehicles. I also oversee the training programs that the state provides through the Department of Education, which prepares instructional personnel to provide education to prospective drivers. I also monitor the instructional personnel.

What do you consider your top achievement?
When I achieved the position of state director of California, which allowed me to effect changes in education and participate in the growth and safety for effective transportation programs. My role as director allows me to contribute to the ongoing safety record in our state, which continually affects the children we transport.

Outside interests?
I love discovering new wineries with my closest friends. I travel as much as possible to day spas for a girls’ weekend, especially in Napa, California.

Most interesting place you’ve been?
I am very fortunate that because of what I do for the transportation industry, I have had the opportunity to travel extensively. Visiting Ocho Rios, Jamaica, this past winter was one of the highlights of 2014.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I used to be a hair stylist.

***

Patrick Willi and his wife, Teresa, enjoy taking on triathlons, among many other challenging pursuits.
Patrick Willi and his wife, Teresa, enjoy taking on triathlons, among many other challenging pursuits.

Patrick Willi
Director, School Training Solutions
Smart Horizons — School Training Solutions
Pensacola, Florida

Born: Pensacola, Florida
Home: Pensacola, Florida
Years in industry: 10

How did you get your start in the school bus industry?
I started as a technical writer and was assigned to a new project to develop online school bus driver training in 2004. I’ve been involved in the creation, sales and marketing of online school bus driver training since. The product grew and expanded into multiple states. We added courses, and the product demand for our type of training kept growing. Over the years I moved up the ranks from writer to instructional designer, holding positions at every part of the development process. Toward the end of 2011, I was promoted to director when my predecessor retired.

Current job duties?
I oversee all customer interactions for School Training Solutions (STS). I work with our customer service, media development and training development departments on all aspects of our STS online training. I also coordinate sales and marketing efforts, attend conferences, perform site visits for new customers and lead workshops when necessary.

Outside interests?
It is hard to talk about interests outside of work without mentioning my wife, Teresa. We have a lot of hobbies. We enjoy the Gulf of Mexico and Pensacola beaches. We are both certified SCUBA divers and enthusiastic triathletes. Whenever we travel, we try to find a local athletic event to support (5K, 10K, marathon, triathlon, etc.) or a SCUBA adventure to experience.

Most interesting place you’ve been?
As cliché as it sounds, my wife and I cultivate an adventure wherever we travel. These are some highlights in no particular order: SCUBA diving the USS Oriskany 30 miles off the coast of Pensacola; exploring haunted Fort Gaines in Alabama; bicycling across Iowa; SCUBA diving in Roatan, Honduras; swimming with dolphins in Jamaica; seeing the Mayan ruins of Tulum in Mexico.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m a home brewer of wine, beer, sodas and liqueurs.
***

Transportation consultant Theresa Anderson (back row, second from left) ranks her growing family as her top achievement.
Transportation consultant Theresa Anderson (back row, second from left) ranks her growing family as her top achievement.

Theresa Anderson
Owner/Principal
TM Anderson Consulting LLC

Born: Millington, Tennessee
Home: Littleton, Colorado
Years in industry: 24

How did you get your start in the school bus industry?
My daughter was 6 months old, and my mother, who was a trainer for Jefferson County, said why not drive a bus? So I thought, OK, I will do this for a while. Well, that was 24 years ago.

Current job duties?
I am grateful for my experiences and network within a school district; however, as a consultant, I am able to leverage my background in finance, special education, training and scheduling to bring streamlined operations and maximize resources. Due to the continued financial burdens, and inefficient systems and processes, districts may feel limited. I love and appreciate having the opportunity to find the various options.

Top achievements?
Hands down, it’s my family. We grew quickly by blending our families. I am so very proud of the five children we raised and what outstanding people they are. To hear them refer to each other as brother and sister, not “step,” is amazing. Our family continues to grow, with two daughters-in-law, a granddaughter plus another baby due this spring. David [Anderson, who is the director of transportation at Colorado’s Adams 12 Five Star Schools] and I recently became empty nesters after Matt, John and Samantha graduated college and started successful careers, and my twins Ryan and Taylor left for school.

Professionally, it is identifying districts that are not utilizing all the funding sources available; over $1 million was identified for a district.

Outside interests?
I love to cook. Other interests include spoiling my 180-pound Malamute (named Diesel), concerts and continuing education — my marketing degree will be completed soon.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
My Polish/Irish heritage is a point of pride (yep, I am a blonde Polack that loves to hear all of the jokes). My grandparents were from Poland and were sent to a Nazi work camp in Germany, where my mother was born. Our family continues to admire their perseverance to survive and become American citizens. We are determined to keep the memories and traditions alive.
***

Kellie Dean (right) is pictured here with orphanage founder and friend John Shinsky at an NFL Hall of Fame golf event for the Shinsky Orphanage.
Kellie Dean (right) is pictured here with orphanage founder and friend John Shinsky at an NFL Hall of Fame golf event for the Shinsky Orphanage.

Kellie Dean
President/CEO
Dean Transportation/Dean Trailways of Michigan
Lansing, Michigan

Born: Pontiac, Michigan
Home: Lansing, Michigan
Years in industry: 29

How did you get your start in the school bus industry?
My career began as a teacher and administrator in special-education programs for Lansing Public Schools. During my career, I was the director of the area Special Olympics as well as the administrator for the physically or otherwise health impaired and hearing impaired programs in the area. Mr. Lyle Stephens, owner of Special Transportation, recruited me to come and join him in business. After completing nearly 15 years as a school employee, I entered private business with Lyle to assist him in his business, which was providing door-to-door special-education transportation services for persons with disabilities.

Current job duties?
As president and CEO, I oversee the financial status of the business and our training and education and HR programs, purchasing and financing vehicles, supporting the overall well-being of nearly 2,000 employees, and fulfilling the responsibilities as the owner, leader and partner with over 125 school districts throughout the state.

Top achievement?
Without question, my family, and most importantly my two sons, Patrick and Christopher, who have both joined me as business partners.

Most interesting place you’ve been?
I was honored to be invited as part of a delegation from the Michigan National Guard and traveled to Riga, Latvia. My role was to consult with the Latvian government in matters of transportation. Following this great experience, Dean Transportation donated a lift-equipped school bus with wheelchair tie-downs to an emerging special-education school and shipped it to Riga from Michigan. We were told this was the first lift-equipped vehicle of its kind to transport handicapped students in the country.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I was recruited to Michigan State University to play football in the early ’70s. Our captain and teammate John Shinsky became my dearest, lifelong friend. John was an orphan. His mission in life was to give back by building an orphanage. I’ve been assisting John in his effort to build the orphanage in Matamoros, Mexico. We have nearly 60 abandoned, homeless children. Besides housing, the orphanage provides schooling.
***

Nicole Portee (third from left)’s family includes (from left) son Tramayne, grandson Elija, husband David, daughter Breona, son Quincy, grandson Quinn and grandson Tahj (not pictured).
Nicole Portee (third from left)’s family includes (from left) son Tramayne, grandson Elija, husband David, daughter Breona, son Quincy, grandson Quinn and grandson Tahj (not pictured).

Nicole Portee
Executive Director of Transportation Services
Denver Public Schools, Denver

Born: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Home: Denver
Years in industry: 11

How did you get your start in the school bus industry?
I got my start after my kids started in middle school. I wanted to play a more active role in their education. Since I’d worked in the transportation industry for 13 years at United Parcel Service, I decided to stay in the industry but in school bus transportation. An opportunity arose, and I accepted the role of training manager in 2003 and have successfully been able to support my students and play a huge role in making a difference in student transportation in the district.

Current job duties?
I oversee the entire Denver Public Schools (DPS) transportation operation. While all of my duties are important, the top one for me is providing leadership and oversight for the 550-plus employees and 38,000 students we transport. My daily duties include interaction/communication with staff, students, school leaders, board members and community to bring about greater awareness of the services we provide. I particularly work toward developing and implementing operational service agreements and work from strategic plans to drive effectiveness and efficiency within our operation.

Top achievements?
I was a teen mother and was told that I would not be able to have a successful career as a result. Because of this very statement, I was determined to reach my goals. After successfully working two jobs and putting myself through college, I’ve become an example to other teen moms that you can become whatever you put your heart to. I have served in many leadership roles, with “Mom” being my greatest achievement. My three children, Tramayne, Quincy and Breona, are the reason I live. I now have three wonderful grandsons, Quinn, Elija and Tahj, whom I am thankful for every day.

Outside interests?
Traveling, singing, shopping and spending time with my wonderful husband, children and grandchildren.

Most interesting or strangest job you’ve had?
My most interesting job was working part-time while in school at a food bank, where I often heard personal stories of success and failures. That had an impact on my life journey.

***

Washington state director Allan Jones enjoys backpacking in OlympicNational Park.
Washington state director Allan Jones enjoys backpacking in OlympicNational Park.

Allan Jones
Director of Student Transportation
Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
Olympia, Washington

Born: Aberdeen, Washington
Home: Olympia, Washington
Years in industry: 37

How did you get your start in the school bus industry?
I started driving a school bus in Seattle in 1977. My unemployment had run out and I was just finding something to get me through until I found a “real job.” I’m still looking.

Current job duties?
Our office oversees the distribution of funding for school district transportation in Washington, both for the operational costs and capital costs (school bus depreciation). We also oversee the authorization of our 10,600 school bus drivers and the occasional process to remove those drivers that have made bad choices. Training programs include training school bus driver instructors, annual in-service training for drivers and the Pupil Transportation Management Training Program.

Top achievements?
I am very happy to have been part of the process of implementing a new funding system for student transportation operations that is just being fully funded for the first time this school year (2014-15), providing an additional $110 million plus for school districts.
The other thing that I am very pleased to have been part of is the implementation of the McKinney-Vento transportation requirement to keep homeless students in their school of origin. This is making a huge impact on the educational achievement of these kids that are going through tough times.

Most interesting place you’ve been?
Over the last 30 years, I have primarily backpacked into the Olympic National Park. That has evolved into a “soft” goal of hiking all the trails in the park. But I love the high country, and there are several long river valleys, trails choked with trees, that I have passed by to visit a few favorite alpine meadows a second, third or fourth time. Sorry, I’m not going to mention my favorite locations by name — the fewer people up there the better I like it.

Most interesting or strangest job you’ve had?
In the winter of 1974-75, I worked in a little sawmill up in Alaska. Just my boss and I. The only part that was covered was the actual saw. I spent a lot of hours shoveling snow to keep the walkways clear. I also drove a ’47 Dodge winch truck down the highway in the middle of January — without a windshield.
***

Michael Shields and his wife, Debbie, enjoy experiencing the variety of the Pacific Northwest. They are pictured here at Roche Harbor on Washington’s San Juan Island.
Michael Shields and his wife, Debbie, enjoy experiencing the variety of the Pacific Northwest. They are pictured here at Roche Harbor on Washington’s San Juan Island.

Michael Shields
Director of Transportation and Auxiliary Services
Salem-Keizer Public Schools
Salem, Oregon

Born: Yokosuka, Japan
Home: Salem, Oregon
Years in industry: 43

How did you get your start in the school bus industry?
I was working as a district manager for a newspaper, going to college, and thought driving a bus would provide additional income.

Current job duties?
To provide administrative leadership to the transportation department and the auxiliary services department (district warehouse, reprographics, crossing guards, cartage and hauling, mail, surplus and delivery) with 500 employees in the two departments. We have reduced our warehouse inventory and improved our service, we have increased our print jobs by 22% without adding additional labor, and we continue to provide an environment for folks to grow and expand their skills, abilities and knowledge.

Also: coordinating services to all the summer programs (52 programs during this most recent summer).

Top achievements?
Besides my wife and kids it would be helping others along their professional journey.

Outside interests?
Family and friends for social contacts. We watch [University of Oregon] Duck games together, wine taste and enjoy the Northwest. Activities I enjoy are golf, downhill skiing, reading, playing with my dog, keeping my yard up and movies.

Most interesting place you’ve been?
Whistler, British Columbia, with its majestic mountains, diverse population and activities.

Most interesting or strangest job you’ve had?
Ski school instructor supervisor. What a blast to ski the mountain checking to ensure kids and adults are having a great time! My strangest job probably would be working in a stockyard.

Something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
I was born in Japan. Also, the number of physical injuries that I have sustained always surprises folks, particularly ER docs and physical therapists.

***

Jeanne Vandemark was a flight attendant before she entered the pupil transportation field.
Jeanne Vandemark was a flight attendant before she entered the pupil transportation field.

Jeanne Vandemark
Director of Transportation
Mesa Public Schools
Mesa, Arizona

Born: Davenport, Iowa
Home: Tempe, Arizona
Years in industry: 23


How did you get your start in the school bus industry?
As a flight attendant, I worked days, nights, weekends and holidays. I had a friend that worked for a school district who told me that if I wanted a Monday through Friday job with no weekends or holidays, a school district was the way to go. She told me that districts were consistently hiring school bus drivers and I should apply at one. I chose to apply at Mesa Public Schools, and the rest is history!

Current job duties?
As the director of transportation, I oversee the entire operation. We have three satellite sites, each of which has its own vehicle maintenance department. In all, we have approximately 891 employees, 543 school buses and 467 white fleet vehicles.

Top achievements?
Working my way up to the position I am currently in at Mesa Public Schools. I started with driving a special-education school bus and worked in nearly every part of transportation.
Personally, my greatest achievement and joy has been raising my daughter, Aspen. As a single mother, it is imperative that I dedicate time to be involved in her education. I am proud to say she is now in her second year of college.

Outside interests?
I have a great love for music, trees, mountains, outdoor exercise and movies.

How did your job as a flight attendant prepare you for student transportation?
Each time you walk onto an aircraft, you meet new people. You only have a moment, as they board, to influence how they perceive you. A friendly hello and a smile helps to promote a positive experience. You must get your customers safely to their destination in a timely manner.
Our transportation department is charged with the safe and timely transport of students every day. As the students board the school bus, you say hello and give them a smile. You help set the tone for their day.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I am a Disneyland expert.
***

Joshua Hinerman describes himself as a “bus nut.” He’s pictured here at a Greyhound event.
Joshua Hinerman describes himself as a “bus nut.” He’s pictured here at a Greyhound event.

Joshua Hinerman
Former Director of Transportation
Wilson County Schools
Lebanon, Tennessee

Born: Medina, Ohio
Home: Lebanon, Tennessee
Years in industry: 12

How did you get your start in the school bus industry?
In high school, I made a trip to the local school bus garage in Marshall County, Tennessee, and interviewed Johnny Flynt, who has since retired as transportation supervisor. I was completing a midterm paper on the history of the yellow school bus and wanted to ask a few questions pertaining to his many years in the industry. I told Mr. Flynt that I wanted to drive a bus because my great-grandmother drove. Mr. Flynt took my phone number and birthday information, and when I turned 21 he called me and said, “Josh, this is Johnny. Are you still interested in driving a bus?” I was so excited and said, “Yes, sir!”

Current job duties?
I oversee all the transportation needs for the Wilson County Board of Education. We have a department of over 200 employees, a fleet of 189 buses and our district transports approximately 13,000 students to and from school daily. I also am a third-party CDL examiner. Getting out on the bus is always a breath of fresh air, as it keeps me humble and reminds me of the many challenges that the drivers endure on a daily basis.

Top achievements?
There are many, but completing my transportation management certification is by far one of my biggest goals. I completed college, which was very important to me. When I arrived in Wilson County, interviewed for operations/safety manager and received the job, I can still recall the sense of overwhelming joy when the then-transportation director called and offered the job to me. Several months after joining the Wilson County transportation team, I was appointed to be the new director of transportation.

Most interesting place you’ve been?
I visited very few places growing up, as we simply did not have the means. Washington, D.C., was an amazing trip for me while I was in high school. I was so impressed with all of the beautiful architecture and the history of our amazing nation.

Most interesting or strangest job you’ve had?
I worked at Lowe’s for over seven years. Not really a strange job, but it was fun! It was at Lowe’s that I learned the value of customer service.
***

Related Topics: Fascinating Personalities

Comments ( 1 )
  • Lionel Pinn

     | about 6 years ago

    What a great way to recognize great people in our industry. I have had the honor of working with Allan Jones in various capacities for a number of years. He's done an outstanding job for me and the entire state as our Director. "AJ" has made my ride in to the sunset of my career a much smoother one too. Well-deserved! Also kudos to another well-respect leader in our school bus yellow world in Mike Shields, a giver of wisdom and friend to all.

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The NCST’s Steering Committee and writing committees are preparing for the 2020 Congress. Murrell Martin (shown left) and Bill Loshbough are shown here leading a discussion at NCST 2015.
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NCST Gears Up for 2020

The National Congress on School Transportation Steering Committee firms up plans and writing committees are researching requests for procedures manual changes. The Congress will meet in Des Moines, Iowa, in May.

Jed Routh, former logistics manager for Thomas Built Buses, is the manufacturer's new vice president of sales, service, and marketing. He replaces long-time Thomas Built veteran Ken Hedgecock. Photo courtesy Thomas Built Buses
News

Thomas Built Buses Names New Sales, Marketing VP

Jed Routh, former logistics manager for the manufacturer’s operations team, is the new vice president of sales, service, and marketing. He replaces longtime Thomas Built veteran Ken Hedgecock.

More than 100 attendees joined the federal issues forum with Bruce Landsberg, vice chairman for the National Transportation Safety Board. He went over several of the agency’s safety recommendations, including those for physical performance testing, evacuation training, and fire suppression systems.
Photo

PHOTOS: Highlights from NAPT Conference in Columbus

A hands-on team-building exercise, sessions and awards addressing safety and industry achievement, and a trade show showcasing the latest technology were some of the highlights at this year's NAPT conference.

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