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Seven First Student Employees Receive Top Honors from National School Transportation Association
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Seven First Student Employees Receive Top Honors from National School Transportation Association

July 30, 2021

MILWAUKEE — The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) recently recognized seven First Student employees for their valuable contributions to the school bus industry.

First Student Director Ray Fattore, Area General Manager Sean McCabe, Location Manager Connie Miller, Region Vice President Bill Roche and Region Vice President Tony Vidrine received Golden Merit Awards from the NSTA. The award honors achievements in safety, driver training and operational excellence.

First Student Driver Tami Rice received the Outstanding Driver Service Award for demonstrating exemplary safety performance and a commitment to excellence. Technician-in-Charge Shane Lally was the recipient of the Continuing Education and Professional Growth Grant.

“We are proud Ray, Sean, Connie, Bill, Tony, Tami and Shane have received this prestigious recognition from the National School Transportation Association for their accomplishments,” said First Student President Paul G. Osland. “They have worked tirelessly to ensure school buses remain the safest way for students to get to and from school. Their contributions and positive influence have been a valuable asset to First Student and the entire student transportation industry.”

Fattore works strategically with First Student’s supply chain partners in his position as director of procurement. His role took on even more importance last year when he and his team led First Student through a vehicle and parts shortage exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. They worked with manufacturers and dealers to locate and acquire materials to ensure existing and new vehicles would be ready when schools reopened. Their collective efforts resulted in not one missed delivery to fulfill a customer contract.

McCabe is responsible for providing safe and reliable transportation for ten school districts throughout Western New York, including operating more than 600 routes for Buffalo Public Schools, one of First Student’s largest and longest-running partners. He is an industry veteran with 25 years of experience. When in-person instruction abruptly stopped at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, McCabe’s team pulled together to deliver 7,000 curriculum packets across the city for Buffalo Public Schools.

Miller joined First Student more than 40 years ago as a school bus driver and now serves as the location manager for the company’s facility in Sedalia, Missouri. When a tornado destroyed the location in 2011, Miller was instrumental in getting the operation up and running again. Her location consistently ranks as one of First Student’s top-performing locations. The fleet she manages repeatedly receives high scores on annual state inspections.

As a region vice president, Roche oversees First Student locations in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. His transportation career spans three decades. During this time, he has instilled customer service, accountability and operational excellence among the team he leads. Roche is known for his steadfast advocacy for practical solutions that enhance the company’s ability to deliver consistently on commitments to school district partners.

Vidrine started in the industry in 1988 and now serves as the region vice president for 13 southern states. He has historically received the highest customer satisfaction scores in the company. Vidrine led his team through times of development and devastation, including when parts of Louisiana experienced historic flooding. He mobilized a team to not only support employees, but also ensure bus service continued.

Rice regularly goes the extra mile to provide the best start and finish to the school day for students in Pembroke, Massachusetts. When she learned an elementary-school student was having a difficult time walking up and down the bus steps due to physical limitations, she designed and built a full-scale replica set of stairs to the exact specifications of the bus. Rice’s gift meant the child could practice boarding, allowing her to ride the bus like all the other students.

As is the technician-in-charge at the First Student multi-maintenance facility in Norwalk, Connecticut, Lally is responsible for ensuring the company’s school buses are maintained to the highest standards. Lally has more than 40 certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). He is an ASE Triple Master with an ASE Certification in Autobody and a Master Certification in Transit.

Lally and the other First Student honorees were recognized during the NSTA Annual Meeting and Convention in Milwaukee.

About First Student

As the leading school transportation solutions provider in North America, First Student strives to provide the best start and finish to every school day. First Student completes five million student journeys each day, moving more passengers than all U.S. airlines combined. With a team of highly-trained drivers and the industry’s strongest safety record, First Student delivers reliable, quality services including full-service transportation and management, special-needs transportation, route optimization and scheduling, maintenance, and charter services with a fleet of about 40,000 buses. For more information, please visit