Charlie Sheppard, the transportation coordinator for Stanly County Schools in North Carolina, is one of the many school transportation officials who has racked up impressive records over their careers. In fact, Sheppard has over 3,000 days of perfect attendance.
Sheppard started his career in pupil transportation in 1999, when he was an 18-year-old senior in high school living in Louisiana. Back then, Louisiana allowed high school seniors to make extra money by driving school bus routes, before changing the state regulation to requiring drivers be at least 21 years old.
Sheppard said from his first day in the driver’s seat, he’s never looked back.
He now oversees the southern district of Stanly County Schools in North Carolina, the other regions being Albemarle, Northern and Western. He added that out of all the four districts, his is the only one that is currently fully staffed.
Sheppard attributed the successful retention and hiring of southern district transportation staff to the organizational culture culture, as he prioritizes leadership and positivity. He added that he has only missed two days in his 20-year career due to death in the family, noting that his vacations are scheduled when school is out.
Sheppard said it’s the everyday challenges and the variety of the job that keeps him in the industry. His leadership style is to set an example, he said, which is why showing up every day is important to him.
For the southern district, Sheppard oversees 36 routes, which is over one-third of the county’s total general runs. He currently has about 45 drivers on staff, transporting about 1,300 students.
Sheppard added that the district is still performing hand routing. But if he had to choose a technology to adopt, he shared he would equip school buses with Wi-Fi hotspots, as his routes travel upwards of two to three hours one way. He noted that he’s working on obtaining a grant from the local energy provider to try and make Wi-Fi accessible to student riders.
There’s never a dull moment, he said of his favorite part of pupil transportation.
“I’m all about creating positive attitudes,” he concluded.
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