Category Archives: Core Values

A Graduation of a Different Sort

One of our school bus drivers, Mark, is celebrating receiving his Master’s degree after 14 years of college. Aside from marveling at his “sticktoitiveness” I was particularly struck by what he wrote in his graduation ceremony invitation. “Fourteen years ago I decided to go back to school and — only as an afterthought then —  to get a part time job driving a school bus.  Little did I know that becoming a school bus driver would be a bedrock of success for me!!” Read the rest of this entry

The Guts to Really Be Fair, Firm, and Consistent

One of the workshop sessions I particularly enjoy teaching is a class for new supervisors/directors. Usually attendees are eager and even anxious to learn the “tips of the trade.” There are always some “veterans” attendees who are there to be reminded of why they do what they do. Then there is the occasional “wily” veteran who is really there to “catch” the presenter in a contradiction or error.

Early in a recent session we talked about choosing your battles. That is, an effective manager can’t do everything at once, or certainly can’t do it effectively. In fact, if the manager has his/her proverbial finger in every pie it can really hurt the operation.  It negatively impacts morale, staff development, and overall performance. Read the rest of this entry

The Guts to Keep Pushing

We’ve all been there. We make a suggestion that we’re certain will make things better. Instead of being greeted with support or acceptance we’re met with waffling, or worse yet, resistance.  Whether it’s stated or not, the message is clear –  “Please move on to other issues.”  Frequently it sounds something like this, “Thank you for your suggestion. We’ll take it under consideration. “

I recently attended an IEP meeting where I was invited to review a student’s progress towards transportation independence. This junior high student with special needs was to be learning “stranger danger” so that she would be able to travel to the neighborhood bus stop safely. Eventually, the goal was that she would be capable of getting to school as her non-disabled peers do. This student was very “high-functioning” and just needed to learn some safety habits. It would not have been unreasonable to expect her to not require special education transportation at all by her sophomore year in high school. Read the rest of this entry

A Confession of Confused Values

 Legendary Oklahoma weathercaster Gary England was the subject of an article in the August 11, 2013 issue of New York Times magazine.  The author of the article, after spending three days in Gary’s studio, noted that “One tension of covering severe weather is that you often find yourself rooting for the storm.  You don’t want it to do serious damage, of course, but you would like it to be interesting, and these desires are often at cross-purposes.” Read the rest of this entry

Resistance to Change – An Unusual Slant

ChangeI have taught many workshop and conference sessions about facilitating change in organizations. In these classes we spend a great deal of time talking about why you need to be a change agent and how to go about succeeding in bringing about change. We review specific strategies for overcoming resistance to change. In fact, I was hired into my current job primarily because of my “expertise” in this particular area of management.

I’ve been working with several people on a project which promises to improve our transportation service for students with special needs. In addition to being right for kids, this new way to think about where students should be picked up and discharged is also right for budgets, and the communities in which these students live. I expected resistance because change is usually difficult and creating large scale change is even more challenging. Woodrow Wilson famously said “If you want to make an enemy, change something.”  I know this, so I expected – and prepared for – resistance.  Usually the opposition shows up as some variation of intentional misunderstanding, rumor generating, questioning the ability to achieve the promised results, fearing extra work, or plain denial. :  I anticipated – and I saw – instances of these and other tactics.  What I was not prepared for were the nay-sayers who objected simply because the suggested changes were progressive. Read the rest of this entry

What is Your Mission?

What we say and how we say it can affect our customers and our employees. Last week Peggy shared some good thoughts about slogans and mottos. This week I’d like to look at that issue from a slightly different angle. I read a lot of emails each day and I’ve noticed a troubling trend. Many people include their company or school district mission statement right below their signature without considering what they’re really implying. I’m going to dissect one of those statements which just didn’t register properly with me. It sounded good when I read it quickly but something didn’t feel quite right. When work led me back to that email I noticed some troubling implications. Here it is:

The Acme School District provides all students with high quality educational opportunities through a shared commitment among home, school, and community. Read the rest of this entry

Billboard Inspirations

White blank billboard, blue sky behind. Outlined with clipping path.

What’s on Your Billboard?

We travelled by car recently from Pueblo Colorado back home to Kansas City after our nephew’s high school graduation.  I love a car trip, but the scenery on this particular stretch leaves much to be desired.  I amused myself by seeing how I might modify the billboards that proliferate before you reach a town of any real size.  Read the rest of this entry

Making a Difference, 1 Child At a Time

Last week California celebrated school bus driver day. I have worked with and around school bus drivers for almost my entire career. There is not a day where I don’t pause and appreciate the essential and often thankless job that drivers perform. In fact, during the year I make it a point to meet with each of our drivers. In these meetings I answer questions, solicit ideas, encourage feedback, and make sure the driver knows how I feel about their jobs.

In honor of School Bus Driver Day I share the following story obtained from one of my drivers in one of these meetings. It is not by any means unique. Rather, it is one of dozens (or thousands) of stories which demonstrate the caring, attentive, and supportive role that many, many bus drivers serve.


Good Song – Great Use

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