The school bus industry contains some of the best kept secrets local communities. This is evidenced by the numerous student transportation professionals in Ohio

who were ready to share how much they respect Colleen Mur- phy-Penk. She joined the district in September 2016, walking into an inefficiently run operation that made parents upset with late or missing buses. The district had also just seen all of its drivers de-certified after a state audit.

CEO Krish Mohip explained that Murphy-Penk’s implementation of technology, such

as student tracking, Versatrans routing and planning software, Fleetvision bus fleet management and Zonar Electronic Vehicle Inspection, “alleviated parent concerns and modernized and streamlined operations.” The driver decertification had forced the district to rely on contractors, but Murphy-Penk brought driving services back in-house. She reduced department operational costs by about $29,000 per month, Mohip said. She has also conducted training for over 4,000 individuals in her district and nearby. Her efforts earned her the William Rice Award of Excellence for the Pupil Transporta- tion Supervisor of the Year from the Ohio Association for Pupil Transportation (OAPT) in March. At the Ohio Department of Education, both the retired state director of pupil transportation, Robert Harmon, and the current director, Stephen W. Puchta, commend- ed her dedication to safety and a positive impact on her district’s student transportation. “Her partnership and collaboration resulted in GPS technology becoming an ‘ap-

proved option’ for all school buses in Ohio,” noted Lt. Aaron J. Reimer of the Ohio Highway Patrol. “I was able to witness firsthand how she is able to coax everyone to row the boat in the same direction,” added Bill Leaming, pre-service coordinator and regional instructor for OAPT. “That is the strength of a leader. Not by coercion, bullying or dogmatic tactics, but by truly believing in the best of people and making them believe in themselves.” Leaming and Lowellville Local Schools Superintendent Geno Thomas agreed that

Murphey-Penk demonstrates superior visionary and team-building abilities. “My blood runs yellow and I love what I do,” Murphey-Penk said. “The reward is the personal satisfaction that comes from your accomplishments and your record of safety.”


Eden Perez is an indefatigable 28-year-old who has

already made a name for herself both personally and professionally. Alexandra Robinson, executive director of the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Pupil Transportation, called Perez a “young leader with

a strong will to learn.” This is the route Perez took to become the department’s first Medicaid liaison, as well as the McKinney Vento homeless coordinator. “When Eden wants to know something she studies and shadows and gets it done,”

Robinson continued. “Even at Eden’s young age, she serves as a mentor and leader to those around her.” Robinson shared that Perez has overseen the installation of GPS and student ridership tracking devices on more than 6,000 buses, hired and organized a new department specializing in technology planning and helped to develop a parent app. She also improved operations by supervising the first department reconstruction in 15 years and continues to support Robinson’s office in managing the Brooklyn borough—

SMART Tag is the premier on-bus tablet solution for student ridership management with pre/post-trip inspection, fleet GPS and e-messaging. The user-friendly rugged tablet and RFID cards help ensure students ride the correct bus, get off at the right stop and are not left on the bus. Offering guardian check for Pre-K/SPED riders, SHARS reports, and integration with your existing routing and maintenance software. Fleet visibility and student info is accessed through our secure web portals for ISDs, campuses and parents.

“SMART tag truly is a magnificent leap in student transportation… the tablet does so much it's actually unbelievable.”

Josh Rice

Dir. of Transportation New Caney ISD, TX 512.686.2360 45

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