Out in Front
Christine Strom is a self-described “people person.” Her outgoing personality seems a perfect fit for a poster that now hangs on the walls of our more than 500 locations across North America. As one of six employees featured in posters that highlight our new tagline and values, Christine reminds employees and visitors that we are committed to our customers.
Delivering on Our Core Value
As safety manager of our location in Highland, Illinois, Christine is responsible for ensuring that we deliver on our core value of safety. In addition to hiring and training new drivers, Christine makes certain the location is in compliance with all federal, state and local regulations. She believes, “First Student is the best when it comes to transporting students to and from school safely. Our training program is second to none. The company’s continual investment in technology over the years has also helped our drivers do a better job.”
The Perfect Job
Christine joined the First Student family nearly 15 years ago as a driver. At the time, Christine was a new mom and she wanted to spend as much time with her daughter as she could. The Highland location offers a ride-along program for drivers. “It was the perfect job for me. I could safely secure my daughter’s car seat on the bus and have her right by my side. As a first-time mom, that was very important to me.” A second daughter soon followed. Both children grew up on Christine’s bus. When they were old enough to attend school, the girls continued to ride on their mom’s route.
Give Respect, Get Respect
During her time as a driver, Christine had an experience with a student that changed her perspective and still inspires her today. The student had behavioral issues. Christine repeatedly had to write him up and notify the school. When it was time for a new school year to begin, she hoped the student would not be on her bus again, but he was. Christine expressed her frustration to the location manager at the time. “She told me I was handling the situation wrong, and that if I cared for him, he would care for me.” Christine tried it. She engaged with the student and began to notice a positive change in his behavior. “I learned that if you give respect, you get respect. Students need to know that you care. You have to show them, and sometimes that starts with a simple ‘Hi’ when they board the bus.”
At the Heart of Everything We Do
The time Christine spent behind the wheel as a driver gives her an important perspective. She can relate to the challenges that our drivers face, but she also knows how rewarding working with children can be. “They are at the heart of everything we do,” believes Christine. She enjoys sharing what she has learned with her team so they can be successful in Caring for students today, tomorrow, together.®