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ing sure his staff members are comfortable behind the wheel, Cox lets his drivers know that he is doing his best to take care of them. “It’s the right thing to do,” said Cox. “It’s humanity.


Put yourself in their shoes. Would you want to sit on a broken seat all day? You can change out the foam and recover it for a reasonable cost. All of our buses have air ride [driver seats], air conditioning and air [loading] doors, which has resulted in a huge decrease in worker’s compensation claims.”


Create a Positive Atmosphere Shields said driver trainers hold the key to fostering


positive relationships with school bus drivers, especially new ones. “There is such a warmth in the connection between a trainer and the new driver. Once they are done with training, we assign a mentor, and they build another relationship. The emotional connection is very important, as is keeping a positive atmosphere,” he observed. Shields added that, “How we do that is to encourage


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our drivers to greet and welcome new people. I encour- age my supervisors to develop relationships. If you know


fuel and supplies. But Cox believes it’s less expensive to take care of your people than to recruit and train new


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that a driver’s son was in the hospital, ask how the boy is. You don’t need to invade people’s privacy, or spend an hour talking, but let them know you care. Learn names. I have 500 employees, and I struggle to remember that many names, but I’m getting better.” Another key to realizing a positive culture is to imme-


diately address behaviors that can pull the team from its mission. “We have a low tolerance for gossip,” he ex- plained. “Generally, if bus drivers don’t know something, they make it up. I have monthly meetings where I share information, such as what the school board is doing.” Chris Ellison and his supervisors at Eugene School


District in Oregon, leave the office and talk with drivers. “I started as a driver 24 years ago,” said the director of transportation. “I’ve had good supervisors, and I’ve had those who sat behind a computer all day and didn’t make themselves visible. Have an open-door policy.”


Morale Boosters Are Worth Every Penny Most districts only want to buy schools buses, parts,


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