The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) recognized nine school bus contractors last month at the Annual Convention and Meeting for exemplifyng leadership in service, safety and community. STN followed up with two recipients on their current initiatives.
First Student Safety Manager Lydell Banks created training programs to improve safety performance at company locations in Louisiana and Mississippi. Banks contributed to the “Operations Fixed Object,” which is designed to assist drivers in using better their bus mirrors and reference points to increase safety. With Banks’ help, Operations Fixed Object resulted in a 19-percent decrease in school bus crashes.
Today, he fosters leadership and proactivity in safety in the Gulf Coast area. Banks also dedicates his efforts to the BeSage program, which brings behavioral-based approaches to employee and school bus safety management. It develops dialogue centered on safety and reinforces its importance to the school transportation workforce.
Another Golden Merit recipient who continues to deliver exceptional service to her team and student safety Alma Lawrence, general manager for Durham School Services' operation in Irvine, California. Lawrence has spent 20 years in school transportation and has gradually ascended the ranks from school bus driver to safety supervisor to overseeing all operations. She said Durham recently received a new fleet of 51 school buses, 49 of which are Type A buses for special needs student routes equipped with three-point shoulder-lap belts per federal law. The two transit-style buses will be dedicated to activity trips.
Lawrence centers her efforts on ensuring driver proficiency. While training drivers on understanding transportation management systems, proper turning radius and conducting safe loading and unloading of students, Lawrence is also actively involved in the local community. She makes company safety protocols transparent with students and parents, alike. She said her aim is to improve customer service by way of training team members in the practice of positive attitudes for students and building communication bridges with parents so they can better understand the operations that transport their children.
Lawrence currently oversees operations and trains drivers with mock runs before the school year begins. “We want to raise awareness in the impact and execution our team members make,” Lawrence said. “Our children and their safety always comes first.”
Other recipients of NSTA’s Golden Merit Award include:
- Darlene Davis, First Student, Olathe, Kansas
- Keith Harms, Petermann Bus, Great Lakes region, Michigan
- Sandra Higgins, Landmark Student Transportation, Alliston, Ontario
- Emma Hussey, First Student, Windsor, Ontario
- Scott Parker, First Student, Chicago
- Esther Sanford, Dean Transportation, Lansing, Michigan
- Russ Stratton, Stratton Buses Inc., Cuba City, Wisconsin