Tammy Freerksen | 16 Years of Caring for Students

Employee Spotlights

Location Manager Tammy Freerksen began her student transportation career as a driver in 1999. Having just had her fourth child, Tammy was looking for a career that would allow her to remain available for her children. She knew just where to look. “My mom was a bus driver when she had children and it worked for her; so, I applied,” recalls Tammy. After 16 years, it’s fair to say that driving a school bus has also worked well for Tammy. Three years into her career, Tammy became a driver/trainer. And, within another five years, she had become a location manager. Despite her manager role, however, Tammy hasn’t stopped driving. She believes driving makes her a more effective manager. “I currently have a short route that requires only minimal time out of the office and takes me back to where it all began, behind the wheel of the bus,” says Tammy. “I believe it makes me a better manager and trainer to be able to relate to driver’s current issues and to have stories to tell future drivers,” she says, “and, it keeps my skills current in real-life situations.”

Putting Safety and Skill to the Test
To say Tammy keeps her “skills current” is an understatement. Participating in her first competition in 2000, Tammy routinely competes in the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) Road-E-O.  The event begins with a written test. Then, driving contestants put their driving skills to the test in one of three categories: conventional, transit or small bus. Each year, NSTA hosts the School Bus Driver International Safety Competition.  This is one of the most important events in the industry, with the best school bus drivers from the U.S. and Canada – only those who have no accidents – competing for top honors and recognition.  “The Road-E-O is all about safety,” Tammy explains. “It takes a significant degree of skill to drive a school bus and have a group of students behind you as you travel down the road. Your focus must be on the road, on the students and on the potential for other hazards to present themselves.” The Road-E-O is a great opportunity to showcase, as well as practice, these skills.  Tammy has a very successful 16-year record with the competition. She has been part of a first place team; has received the Ron Dodd’s Memorial Award and the Rural Events Award; and, has been first at both the local and provincial levels. As for her most treasured award, Tammy states, “It’s the Gerry Weber Most Professional Driver Award, which I won in 2008.” Senior Vice President Stan Weber named this trophy in memory of his father, who started Cardinal Coach Lines in 1947. (Cardinal was part of the acquisition that later became First Student in Canada.) She also shares, “I am proud to say that I have managed to keep this trophy for the past four years.”

Committed to the Best Start and Finish to Each School Day
It’s easy to see that Tammy loves student transportation. Most importantly, of course, she loves the students who are at the heart of everything First Student does. “Nothing is more exciting for me than those little ones on the first day of kindergarten,” Tammy explains, “and each of the parents of those young riders, parents who entrust me with the most important person in their lives.” Tammy recognizes that both parent and child are anxious about the new experience. She insists it’s her job to, “Smile and be professional, to help everyone feel secure. They need to know that when a child boards the bus, that child is going to arrive safely at school and safely back home.” Tammy’s expert skills, her dedication to safety and her passion for our students, exemplifies our commitment to providing students the best start and finish to each school day. And, certainly, she is helping First Student deliver on our promise of  – Caring for students today, tomorrow, together.®

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