Mike Sloan knows the difference a school bus driver can make in a child’s life. He fondly remembers Mr. Green, his driver when he was a first-time rider in kindergarten. “He really watched out for me,” says Mike. “Between his morning and afternoon routes, Mr. Green would stop by the school to make sure I was doing okay. I really credit Mr. Green with setting me up for success in school.” Mike now encourages our drivers to recognize the opportunity they have to impact a student’s day in a positive manner.
Lunch Duty Dad
Mike has been in the transportation industry for nearly 20 years. He joined First Student as a driver in 1997. He had two young children at the time and the flexible schedule allowed him to volunteer at their school, including serving many years as a lunch duty dad. “When I was a driver, I primarily drove special needs and lift routes.” shares Mike. “I loved every minute of it. There was nothing more rewarding than bringing smiles to the faces of the students I transported.” Mike became a trainer in 2006 and served as location safety manager in San Francisco. In this current role, he oversees safety operations at ten First Student locations in Northern California.
Everyone Has a Story
Mike has a passion for training new drivers. He is a state certified instructor, which allows him to provide both classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction. “Drivers are a unique breed,” believes Mike. “They all have a story to tell about why they are here and it is important to hear it. I can relate to their everyday experiences on routes because I have been in their shoes.” Mike feels his time behind the wheel made him a better manager. He can lead by example because he has been in the driver’s seat.
Making a Positive Contribution
Mike lives in the neighborhood where he used to drive his school bus routes. Some of the students he transported now work for First Student. He hired and trained them. “It’s incredibly gratifying to see them now as adults making a positive contribution to the community,” says Mike. In his free time, Mike volunteers with Challenge Aspen Military Opportunity (CAMO). The non-profit organization off provides assistance for wounded veterans of the military. Mike travels to Colorado for a week each year to help disabled veterans and their families ski or participate in other snow-related recreational activities. The cause is important to him because his two brothers-in-law have military careers and served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) recently presented Mike with a Golden Merit Award for his contributions to the student transportation industry. “It’s the children we transport who motivate me,” says Mike. “We are an extension of the classroom. The ride we provide dictates learning. We ensure success by how we perform every school day. We can make a bad day better one ride at a time.”