When Lynnette Koeller changed jobs more than 25 years ago, she never imagined the positive impact it would have on her life not only professionally, but also personally. Lynnette joined our team in Wausau, Wisconsin, in 1989 as a driver. She had spent years on the road with her husband driving semi-trucks. After suffering a broken wrist, she decided it was time for a change. “Ironically, it turned out to be a lucky break because I found the perfect job for me,” shares Lynnette.
Caring for students is a family affair for Lynnette. Her sons grew up on her school bus. Because the location offered a ride-along program, she did not have to worry about child care. Lynnette could safely secure their car seats on the bus and have her sons right by her side. Lynnette’s children rode with her on a special needs route for years. “You form a real bond with these students and their families,” says Lynnette. “My children also felt this special connection. It was amazing for me to watch the interaction that would occur on the way to and from school.” Lynnette believes the experience influenced her children’s career choices. One of her sons is now a special education teacher. The other is a school bus driver with First Student.
Making It Work
When her sons were older, Lynnette moved into her current position as operations clerk. She manages payroll, dispatch and routing. Our team in Wausau transports more than 3,000 students every school day. Lynnette is on the front line coordinating, directing and juggling to ensure on-time performance and great customer service. “Coordinating the movement of students, drivers and buses is challenging,” says Lynnette. “I like figuring it out and executing the plan.” Lynnette still drives a route most school days. She believes being behind the wheel keeps her grounded and connected to the drivers at her location.
Accentuate the Positive
Lynnette takes pride in serving the children in her community. “I was in a store, and a visually-impaired student who I transported years ago was there,” shared Lynnette. “He still recognized my voice after all of this time.” She and her team have worked closely with their school district partners to create an environment of trust and respect on the school bus by providing positive reinforcement to students for good behavior. “It’s really made a difference,” says Lynnette. “You feel better and the students and parents feel better, too. Remembering to accentuate the positive can really change the culture of how we operate.”
When our Wausau location hosted a stop on the Safety Dog Bus Tour in August, Lynnette went above and beyond to help make it a success. She even volunteered to wear the Safety Dog costume. “The event really opened our eyes to how the community sees us,” says Lynnette. “We’re about more than just driving students to and from school safely.” As a result, the location is becoming more engaged in the community, and Lynnette enjoys playing our safety mascot whenever she gets the chance. It’s another way for her to show her continued commitment and dedication to her location and the students we transport.