William Ostrander of Johnston Community Schools is headed to the NAPT America's Best School Bus Technician Skills and Training Competition this fall after besting 12 of his peers during the second annual Iowa "Best of the Best" event on April 17.
Held at Thomas Bus Sales in Des Moines in partnership with the Iowa Department of Education, the Iowa Pupil Transportation Association and the Iowa School Boards Association, the competition featured a 50-question knowledge test and four stations of school buses that challenged the technicians to diagnose mechanical problems on each vehicle.
Ostrander said he particularly enjoyed diagnosing late-model school buses equipped with multiplex wiring systems and networking with his peers from around the state.
"It was encouraging to see other people taking interest in the competition," he said.
Ostrander, a 15-year veteran of school transportation and an employee at Johnston Community for the past four years, will now prepare to compete at the national event Sept. 28-Oct. 1 at Jasper Engines and Transmission in Jasper, Ind. Max Christensen, the transportation director at Iowa DOE, said Ostrander will work with Kevin Talley of Southeast Polk Community School District, last year's winner of Iowa's inaugural competition and a repeat participant this year.
"We're going to get those two guys together and have Kevin give him a few tips on what goes on at nationals," he added. "We're going to try and do our best. We'd love to bring that [trophy] home."Mike Volz, transportation director at Johnston Community, said he certainly hopes Ostrander wins in Indiana this fall. But he was already proud of the job both of his mechanics did in Des Moines. The other Johnston Community technician who participated was George Rish.
"It's good to know you've got quality people in your organization. this just validates it," Volz added. "It says a lot a good things about their accomplishments, and obviously we benefit as a district because of it."
Other competitors included: Chris Errthum of Western Dubuque CSD; Jim Hummel of Panorama CSD; Ron Johnson of Burlington CSD; Kevin Kludy of North Scott CSD; Jason Logan of Indianola CSD; Jared Miller of SE Polk CSD; Chad Novotny of Marshalltown CSD; Mark Possehl of Grundy Center CSD; John Thorson of Norwalk CSD; and Mark VanderMeiden of Oskaloosa CSD.
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