School Bus Fleet

November 2014

A management & maintenance magazine for school transportation fleets

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33 N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 4 • S C H O O L B U S F L E E T Quinton Higgins School Bus Driver Hardin County Schools Elizabethtown, Kentucky How did you get your start in the school bus industry? I had lost a job running a mailroom, and I was at home on un- employment. I needed another job. My oldest was getting ready to go to college. Someone at my church said, "You're good with kids. Why don't you drive a bus?" I said, "You know I was in the Carrollton bus crash." [Higgins was one of the survivors of the fery Carrollton, Kentucky, bus crash that killed 27 people in 1988.] Then I thought about it. I went to a school bus driver class, and one of the teachers was someone I knew growing up. He helped me through it. That was 2010. Was it diffcult to drive a school bus after having been through the Carrollton crash? At frst, I didn't give it any thought. The buses we drive now are completely different from what we were in then. [His church group was in a retired school bus that was built just a few days before the critical 1977 federal safety standards for school buses went into effect.] But once on a feld trip, I was driving at night, and it hit me. [The Carrollton crash was at night.] It wasn't ini- tially hard, but I had my moments. Do you ever talk to people about the Carrollton crash? Yes. I also help teach bus safety. When they teach at the middle schools, I go and share my story. I tie it into why it's important to listen to the bus driver. I like talk- ing to eighth graders. That's the grade I was in when we went on that trip. What are your interests outside of work? I'm a strong Christian man. I'm always in church. I'm a youth leader at the church. What is something that people would be surprised to learn about you? My approach on my life, and on being a survivor of the Car- rollton crash and driving a bus for a living. A lot of people fnd it so fascinating that I could get behind the wheel of a bus. For me, God has called me. I don't have a spirit of fear. I just really enjoy driving a bus. I enjoy shar- ing the story, because it shows that you go through things in life, but you can't let these things hold you back. Jim Beekman General Manager, Transportation Hillsborough County Public Schools Tampa, Florida How did you get your start in the school bus industry? I began in 1983 as a diesel mechanic for Osceola District Schools [in Kissimmee, Florida]. Diesel buses were starting to make a presence in Florida, and I was certifed in diesel repair. Ironically, I had no intentions of staying in the school bus indus- try but rather was pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. It was a good job that allowed me to pay for my college educa- tion, but I ended up getting hooked on it and, 31 years later, I am still a school bus junkie. What do you consider your top achievement? Hands down it is my family. We have raised three wonderful sons, two of which are in law enforcement and the third is an en- vironmental engineer. At work, there have been many, but they have all come from the help of an amazing team. I have been blessed having so many awesome people cross my path in life. What are your interests outside of work? I love the beach, reading and playing golf. Although I don't get to play golf often, I love the opportunities that Florida pro- vides to play year-round and the opportunity I get to play with my sons. Most interesting place you've been? Several years ago, I had the chance to test- drive a bus in Ar- kansas. On the freeway there was an exit sign that said "Toad Suck, Arkansas." I took the off-ramp and spent an hour listening to the guy in the gift shop tell (with passion) how it was named. I was sorely disap- pointed that they were out of T-shirts. What has been the most interesting or strangest job you've had outside of school transportation? It had to be when I was in high school and was "Scoopy the Clown" for a small ice cream shop that I worked at during the week. Didn't realize how creepy that was until years later. Something that people would be surprised to learn about you? I am an avid cook. There are few people in the transportation industry that are not workaholics. We all need a way to unwind at the end of the day, and mine is in the kitchen cooking dinner. In 1988, Quinton Higgins survived the fery Carrollton, Kentucky, bus crash. More than 20 years later, he be- came a school bus driver. Jim Beekman (left) doesn't get to play golf often, but when he does, he enjoys playing with his three sons. Born: Elizabethtown, Kentucky Home: Radcliff, Kentucky Years in industry: 4 Born: Portsmouth, Ohio Home: St. Cloud, Florida Years in industry: 30+

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