In the Field
There is no place Joanne Waterhouse enjoys being more than in the field with our frontline employees. As a multi-site safety manager, she has many opportunities to interact with our drivers while instilling the importance of our core value. “I have a strong passion for safety,” says Joanne. “I also have a desire to use that passion to motivate others to help create and foster a world-class safety culture.”
Creating a Career
Joanne has been focused on creating the best start and finish to the school day for students and their families for more than 30 years. She joined the industry in 1984 as a driver. At the time, Joanne had three children all under the age of three. She worked at a location that offered a ride-along program. Joanne’s children grew up alongside her on the bus. The flexible schedule was also important for this new mom. “I never thought I would make a career out of it,” shares Joanne. “I can honestly say that I look forward to getting up and doing this job every day.” The more she drove, the more passionate Joanne became about safety and that led to new opportunities within the company.
Joanne currently oversees safety at 20 First Student locations in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. Joanne is a helping to lead our “Be Safe” training program. The company-wide initiative engages employees by reinforcing safe behavior through positive reinforcement. “The program is making a difference,” says Joanne. “We are seeing how understanding and shaping behavior are essential to preventing accidents and injuries in the workplace.” As a result, Joanne spends less time analyzing data and more time interacting with her team, which is just how she wants it to be.
Advance the Industry
Joanne is not only focused on safety for First Student, but also the industry as a whole. She was recently voted to the Board of Directors of the New Hampshire School Bus Association. “Our students and our employees are my top priority,” says Joanne. “I appreciate the opportunity to help the association with policies that ensure school buses remain the safest form of transportation to and from school.” Joanne is also a certified National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHSTA) Child Passenger Safety Technician. Training drivers on procedures to keep students safe on every ride is important to Joanne, especially since her own children rode securely on her bus.
Joanne considers herself a “support system.” She believes in always making herself available to assist her team, our school district partners or the families we serve. Joanne shares, “I love helping direct others toward a common goal of injury prevention, being collision free, creating a safe work environment and transporting children safely.” Over the years, Joanne has been proud to work with successful teams who have become safety leaders for the entire student transportation industry.