CINCINNATI — The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) recently honored six First Student employees and past company President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Osland for excellence in leadership, service and safety during its annual meeting and convention.
Osland received the NSTA’s Distinguished Service Award for special contributions made to the student transportation industry. First Student Vice President of Maintenance Scott Greenstreet, Area General Managers Laurie Henner and Lisa Serra, Senior Location Manager David Willis were presented Golden Merit Awards. Chief Engineer Alex Cook was honored with the Innovator of the Year Award, and Driver Sarah Michalak received the Outstanding Driver Service Award.
“This is tremendous and well-deserved recognition for Paul, Scott, Laurie, Lisa, David, Alex and Sarah,” said First Student Chief Executive Officer and President John Kenning. “They have dedicated their careers to ensuring school buses remain the safest way for students to get to and from school. We are proud of their efforts and the positive impact they have had on the industry, our company and the communities they serve.”
Osland was recognized for his passionate leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. He helped the entire student transportation industry navigate unprecedented challenges. Osland successfully advocated for the safety and viability of the industry. He served as First Student president and chief executive officer from 2019 until his retirement in 2022.
Greenstreet oversees the safe operation of 27,000 First Student buses at 270 of the company’s locations. He has developed and implemented innovative and effective ways to use data to drive performance. Some of these best practices have been adopted companywide at First Student, enhancing fleet reliability and maintenance performance. Greenstreet’s locations include 83 ASE Blue Seal Shops, which is the highest certification given by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.
Henner is leading First Student’s electrification efforts in Quebec. The company is deploying 260 electric school buses in the province, making First Student the largest operator of zero-emissions schools buses in North America. Henner has been instrumental in the process. She is known for her ability to develop and maintain quality customer and employee relationships and has been recognized by the company for operational and maintenance excellence.
Serra is an industry veteran with more than 35 years of experience in student transportation. She began her career as a school bus driver. Serra’s dedication to safety and customer service resulted in a series of promotions over the years. In her current role as area general manager, Serra is responsible for overall operations of 13 First Student locations in California, Colorado and Utah. In addition, she is a Six Sigma Green Belt and holds countless other certifications in leadership and operations.
Willis has ensured generations of families in Wisconsin have had safe and reliable transportation to and from school. As the senior location manager for First Student, Willis oversees the largest fleet of school buses in Milwaukee. He began his career in the student transportation industry in 1977 as a school bus driver. Over the course of his career, Willis has developed and implemented safety protocols that have been adopted companywide at First Student, positively impacting millions of lives each and every day.
Cook developed an innovative behind-the-meter charging infrastructure solution that allows positioning, mounting and protection of high-voltage circuits for electric school buses. The design is flexible, quickly deployable and can be moved or relocated easily if needed. There are nearly 30 projects underway at First Student that will utilize Cook’s new inventive approach. He has served as chief engineer since joining the company in 2004.
Michalak has been a driver for the First Student location in Fredonia, New York, for 11 years. She has driven the same route, developing a strong rapport with the students who ride her bus. Michalak acted quickly to keep them safe during a tense situation earlier this year, earning praise from the school district and the families she serves.
All of these First Student award recipients were recognized during the NSTA annual meeting and convention in Niagara Falls, New York, on July 26.
About First Student, Inc.
As a leading school transportation solutions provider in North America, First Student strives to provide the best start and finish to every school day. With a team of highly-trained drivers and the industry’s strongest safety record, First Student delivers reliable, quality services, including full-service transportation and management, special-needs transportation, route optimization, and scheduling, maintenance, and charter services with a fleet of about 40,000 buses. For more information, please visit firststudentinc.com.