Forces to be Reckoned With

This month’s profiles demonstrate the needed willpower and dedication to succeed in pupil transportation, traits that have never been more vital.

Written By Taylor Hannon | W

hile historically slow to embrace change out of concern for negative impacts on safety, the student transportation industry is being led by an increasing number of open-minded leaders of all ages who

continue to push the industry to new heights. Whether drawn in by the flexibility afforded with one’s family life, the encouragement from peers to start driving a school bus, the desire to continue to serve the community, or the sheer love for education, all 10 of this year’s Rising Stars finalists have made a home for themselves. As reported time and again, many professionals don’t

join the industry seeking permanent placement, yet many stay year-after-year out of sheer love for what they

do. These leaders demonstrate that no matter their age or their accomplishments, their goal remains to continue to grow the industry into being the safest it can be. Nothing will stand in these leaders’ way. Rising Stars

doesn’t solely encompass those new to the industry but also those who may have gone largely unnoticed on a national scale, remaining under the radar despite their aptitude. Meet the 2020 Rising Stars and learn what made them stand out from a nomination list of approximately 70 individuals submitted by readers this summer. From start- ing their own podcasts to becoming the chief executive officer of their company, these transportation leaders are truly forces to be reckoned with.

DEBRA KINEMOND | Assistant Director of Transportation | Cherry Creek Schools | Colorado Deb Kinemond, pictured on this month’s cover, is a mother of three and was looking for the perfect job two decades ago that would work around her children’s school schedule. Like so many others who came before and after her, she was seeking an opportunity to spend holidays and summers with her children. “I began my path as driver, and developed a strong passion for driving commer- cial vehicles, along with the rules of the road,” shared Kinemond, 58, who started driving with Cherry Creek Schools in 1998. “Developing partnerships with the schools within our district and driving the students to and from school sealed my commitment to the importance of transporting students and their future.” Twenty-two years later, Kinemond said her day could still consist of driving a

route. “Putting on your driver’s hat and getting behind the wheel reminds you of the basics you once learned long ago,” she added. “It keeps your driving skills alive,

keeps you in touch with students, and how the generations have changed.” She said her days are also filled with providing answers to questions, problem solving, and providing customer service to parents and school administrators alike. Continuing to build those relationships with her team while also building new relation-

ships, all while continuing to learn, remains her top goals. She is also focused on continuing to be a strong leader within the district, with a particular eye on inspiring new and existing employees. “I have been very fortunate to have many positive, knowledgeable people around me,” Kinemond said. “This

industry provides you with a fresh perspective on safety, technology, students, disabilities, and much more. Op- portunities to learn and build relationships with other districts within our state, and across the nation, are provided through successful conferences and additional communications.” For the past 20 years, Kinemond has also been a member of the Colorado State Pupil Transportation Association

(CPSTA) and served as both vice-president and president. She has held various positions from the state trainers committee to co-chair of the special needs committee. She has also organized the CSPTA Special Needs Roadeo competition at the state level and served as a judge at the national level. Theresa Anderson of TMAnderson Consulting and the Region 5 director for the National Association of Pupil

Transportation (NAPT) has worked closely with Kinemond and said she leads by example. “She is the first to arrive and last to leave, never asking anyone to do something she herself would not do,” Anderson added.

38 School Transportation News • OCTOBER 2020

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