Dear Colleagues,

As I begin each school year, I like to take time to reflect on years past. I often think my career in pupil transportation actually began when I was a 3rd grader riding a bus to and from school about 10 miles each way.

As a result of riding the bus, I was afforded the opportunity for socialization with my peers, and watching the driver shift gears which prepared me for my future driving career. As I look back, the worst part of riding the bus was that I was notorious for losing my homework which resulted in my Mom often getting a call from my teacher. My mom will tell you today that I did my homework but just couldnít seem to keep track of it on the bus! It was my great experiences riding the bus that made me determine at such an early age I wanted to be associated with school buses when I grew up.

After graduating from high school in 1981, I was hired on as one of the youngest ever substitute drivers for Hampton City Schools. I drove many different routes in that capacity. Later I served as a contracted driver, then driver trainer, and finally as a supervisor before leaving Hampton in 1999 for a position as Manager of Transportation Services with York County School Division.

Today, some 35 years after becoming employed in the field of pupil transportation, I serve as the Associate Director of Transportation and Warehouse Operations for the York County Schools. When I think about this, I wonder where the years have gone. Most importantly I am amazed at how our industry accomplishes what it does in such a safe and efficient manner.

Here in the Commonwealth there are approximately 15,500 school buses transporting 861,000 students daily. For the average person, they canít fathom those numbers and what we do every day. Often times for many it appears to be a thankless job. I tell my staff at the end of the day when you have time to reflect, and you think of all the students who have been transported to and from school, on off-campus trips, etc., when all have arrived at their destination safely, thatís the true reward for a job well done.

Because of the dedication of all those employed in the school bus industry, school buses are rated as the safest mode of transportation for getting children back and forth to school, by the U. S. Department of Transportation. This is quite an accomplishment everyone in our profession can be proud of.

No matter what your role is in our industry, you play an important one. Never forget the impression you make, on the students we serve, whether it is that of making a positive impact which like in my case, could lead to a future pupil transportation professional or just make a tough day better for a student riding your bus. Never forget the important role that you play in your precious cargoís life while driving that school bus.  Thanks for going the extra mile!

 I hope you all have a great, safe 2016-17 school year!

James T. Lash
VAPT President