School Bus Fleet

November 2014

A management & maintenance magazine for school transportation fleets

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32 S C H O O L B U S F L E E T • N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 4 A WWII veteran who is still training school bus drivers in his 90s. A mechanic-turned-manager who test-drove a bus to Toad Suck, Arkansas. A state director who used to be a hair stylist. Get the scoop on these and other intriguing school bus people in the return of this popular series. BY THOMAS MCMAHON AND NICOLE SCHLOSSER Fascinating Personalities in Pupil Transportation Max Christensen State Director/Executive Offcer of School Transportation Iowa Department of Education How did you get your start in the school bus industry? It started in a mud hole. I was farming at the time. Another guy, who happened to be the local transportation director, was renting the pasture land on one of the farms where I was renting the crop land. He got stuck with his pickup in a mud hole one day while checking his cows and asked me to pull him out with my tractor, so I did. He offered me a $20 bill for my trouble. I turned it down, instead telling him that perhaps he could some- day help somebody else out — a form of "paying it forward." A year later, he did! He resigned his position as transportation di- rector and recommended me to the superintendent for the posi- tion. The rest is history, but I'll admit there have been days I've wondered if I should have just taken the $20! Current job duties? Responding to literally every school transportation-related question that comes into our agency. I also develop the year- ly curriculum for the annual three-hour training course for the nearly 9,000 school bus drivers in Iowa, and I oversee the school bus inspection process for the 7,500 school buses in our state. With my team, I help to develop school transportation-related legislation and rules, oversee pilot projects and develop other transportation initiatives that are deemed helpful in making stu- dents in Iowa safer while riding our buses. Top achievements? First and foremost, having the most wonderful and supportive wife in the world, Lisa. Togeth- er, our greatest achievement was adopting two wonderful chil- dren from China: Olivia and Isa- iah. Professionally, leading the National Association of State Di- rectors of Pupil Transportation Services as president ranks at the top. In Iowa, putting new driver training online and developing electronic inspection reporting. Most interesting place you've been? China in 2008 and 2011 when getting our kids. The beauty of the country is absolutely breathtaking, the food is awesome, the people are so friendly, and being there makes you so happy, proud and thankful that we live in the United States. Most interesting or strangest job you've had? I was a radio DJ for a number of years. Loved the job, hated the pay and discovered that "WKRP in Cincinnati" is exactly how most radio stations actually operate! Max Christensen and his wife, Lisa, adopted two chil- dren from China: Olivia and Isaiah. They are pictured at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Born: Atlantic, Iowa Home: Perry, Iowa Years in industry: 27 14

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