When Suzanne Caldeira applied to join the First Student team as a driver in 2006, she was looking for a job that would fit around her schedule. She was in college and studying to earn a degree in business management. For Suzanne, her work behind the wheel soon became her passion. “My blood turned yellow,” says Suzanne. Ten years later, she remains focused on keeping safety at the heart of everything we do.
Suzanne currently serves as a multi-site safety coordinator. She is responsible for overseeing safety operations at 19 First Student locations in Southern New York. Suzanne understands what is involved in ensuring the safe transportation of our students. She also strives to foster a work environment where employees adopt safety as their personal core value. Suzanne shares, “The physical and emotional safety of the children who ride our buses, as well as making sure our employees return home safely to their families each day, is the very core of what motivates me.”
Because Suzanne began her career as a First Student driver, she has a relatability that draws our frontline employees to her. “I haven’t forgotten where I came from,” says Suzanne. “My experience driving a school bus grounds me. I actually cried my last day on a route. I transported special students with special needs that school year, and I really developed a special bond with them.” Suzanne enjoys sharing her personal experiences and knowledge with drivers to help them develop and grow.
Suzanne has an integral leadership role on our company-wide “Be Safe” initiative, which engages employees by reinforcing safe behavior through positive reinforcement. “The initiative changed everything,” says Suzanne. “It has shaped me to be better in all areas of my life, both professionally and personally. The experience of being part of such a transformational culture change has been priceless.” During the first six months of this initiative, Suzanne traveled across North America to train our management team. Once training was complete, she took on a coaching role in her region. As a result of Suzanne’s leadership, two-thirds of her locations have seen reductions in preventable collisions and workplace injuries over the past year.
Rising Star of Safety
Suzanne’s dedication to safety is earning her industry recognition. She was named a 2016 “Rising Star of Safety” by the National Safety Council. The program honors future leaders for promoting a culture of continuous safety improvement within their companies and creating safety initiatives focused on measurable outcomes. “I really love what I do,” says Suzanne. “I go home every night knowing I have made a difference in the lives of my colleagues and the students we transport.” Through her passion and enthusiasm, Suzanne motivates others to create a strong safety culture that continues to drive First Student forward.