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First Student Employees Receive High Honors from National School Transportation Association
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First Student Employees Receive High Honors from National School Transportation Association

July 22, 2016

Five First Student employees were honored with top awards from the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) for excellence in service, safety and leadership.

Senior Vice President of Safety for First Student, Gary Catapano, received the prestigious Distinguished Service Award. The award recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to the school bus industry.

Senior Director of Safety Teresa Cole, Multi-Site Safety Coordinator Mike Sloan, and Multi-Site Safety Manager Joanne Waterhouse, were recognized with Golden Merit Awards. The award honors achievements in safety, driver training and operational excellence.

Driver Tiesha “Ty” Donner received the Outstanding Driver Service Award for demonstrating exemplary safety performance and a commitment to excellence.

“Gary, Teresa, Mike, Joanne and Ty have dedicated their careers to ensuring children have a safe and reliable way to get to and from school,” said First Student President Dennis R. Maple. “Their contributions and positive influence have not only been a valuable asset to First Student, but to our entire industry. We are proud they received recognition for their accomplishments.”

As senior vice president of safety, Catapano leads division-wide and field-level management of safety for First Student. He has worked for more than two decades as a transportation safety professional. Catapano has authored many technical papers and manuals on school bus safety as well as co-authored a book on wheelchair transportation. He serves as a member of the Board of Delegates for the National Safety Council (NSC) and the chair of the Safety and Security Committee for the NSTA.

Cole has nearly 30 years of experience in the safety field. She currently serves as the senior eastern regional safety director for First Student. Cole oversees the safe operation of more than 25,000 school buses and drivers in more than 10 states, including Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New York. She serves as the chairman of the Transportation Division and is a member of the board of delegates for the NSC.

Sloan has been in the transportation industry for 18 years. He is a state certified instructor who provides safety support and guidance to First Student locations in California. Sloan is a member of California Association of Student Transportation Officials (CASTO).

Waterhouse began her career with First Student as a driver in 1984. She currently oversees safety at 20 First Student locations in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. Waterhouse was recently voted to the board of directors of the New Hampshire School Bus Association.

Donner from Jefferson City, Mo., joined First Student in 2014. While transporting students in May, her school bus came under gunfire. Donner put her training into action and kept all of the students safe. Her actions earned her praise from the school district and the community.

The employees were recognized during the NSTA annual meeting and convention in Greensboro, N.C. on July 20.

About First Student, Inc. 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 six 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, and charter services for 1,300 school district contracts. For more information, please visit