“Administrator, boss, chair, chief, controller, executive, head, key player, leader, organizer, overseer, principal, producer, skipper, supervisor, top dog, big cheese” (I made that last one up). These are some of the synonyms that thesaurus.com returns for the word Director. Sound like your job?
As transportation directors, our jobs encompass all of these descriptions and more. We keep kids safe. We provide service. We impact the educational process. We manage resources. We communicate. We innovate. We plan. We learn new skills. We create the opportunity for success. We use our people skills, our mechanical skills, our technical skills, our fiscal skills, our logistical skills daily, all hopefully ladled with a generous sense of humor and common sense. It is just as important for us to know about tailpipe emissions as it is to know about autism.
The career we have chosen is one that attracts and produces some of the most interesting and dynamic personalities around. This is no job for the meek of heart. How many times have you woken with your head full of challenges that needed to be faced in the coming day? How many times have you driven home exhausted but satisfied that you were really able to make a difference?
There is no one correct way to be a transportation director. We can do our job by being a good communicator, by developing a network, by our commitment to lifelong learning, by being a good listener. We can do our job by being visible in our bus yards, school sites and community. We can do our job most effectively simply by caring about the outcome.
What is the product of our work? Why does the school board pay us the big bucks? The best answer is contained in the mission statement common to many of our programs “To provide safe, efficient and professional transportation service for our students while supporting the district educational mission.”
Our challenges are many but our rewards are very real. The bottom line of our job is to make a difference for kids, which is pretty important work when you think about it. This note is written with the sincerest admiration for the amazing work Transportation Directors accomplish every day.
Keep on driving!
John P. Fahey is a former assistant superintendent who was responsible for the Buffalo, N.Y., CSD transportation program for 18 years. John now works on the Versatrans team for Tyler Technologies and sits the new NAPT KPI (Key Performance Indicator) Committee.