CINCINNATI— First Student employees were honored with top awards from the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) for their contributions to the student transportation industry. Six members of the First Student team were recognized with Golden Merit Awards for their commitment to excellence in service and safety in their communities. They include: Lucille Ayotte, area general manager, Waterbury, Conn.; Brian Rutford, senior location manager, Richmond, Calif.; Bob Rutkoski, area general manager, Naperville, Ill.; Mike Sullivan, technician, Marlborough, Mass.; Marilyn Tasaka, senior location manager, Vancouver, B.C.; Bill Young, area general manager, Industry, Calif.
Area General Manager Lucille Ayotte oversees all First Student operations in Connecticut. Ayotte began her student transportation career as a school bus driver in 1982. She is involved with the Connecticut Operators of School Transportation Association and has helped to draft and influence legislation advancing student transportation interests.
Brian Rutford began his student transportation career began in 1978 as a bus driver. He is now senior location manager for First Student locations in Richmond, Concord, San Mateo and Santa Rosa, California .Rutford also serves on the Community Advisory Committee for West Contra Costa Unified School District, where he manages more than 100 special needs routes. Rutford works with committee members to address challenges and issues around special needs transportation.
Bob Rutkoski has served the student transportation industry for more than 30 years. He began his career in student transportation in the 1980’s with one of the largest school districts in Illinois. Rutkoski was an active member of the school board, serving 10 years as board president. As area general manager, he currently oversees 12 First Student locations and 1,300 buses in Northern Illinois.
As a technician in charge, Mike Sullivan is responsible for maintaining the overall reliability and performance of the fleet to ensure student passengers ride in safe and reliable school buses in the Marlborough, Mass. area. Sullivan is involved with the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). He has been instrumental in developing ASE examination questions to measure the skill level of technicians in vehicle repair and maintenance across a range of specialty areas.
Marilyn Tasaka began her career in student transportation as a dispatcher. She has worked her way through the ranks of operations, and now leads a group of locations as Senior Location Manager for the Western Canada region. She has been a member of the Association of School Transportation Services of British Columbia for 15 years, sharing her extensive knowledge and quality controls with industry members.
Area General Manager Bill Young has dedicated 30 years of his life to the student transportation industry. In his current role, Young provides support and training for First Student Location Managers throughout the Los Angeles, Orange County, Inland and Utah areas. He develops and implements programs and procedures to ensure a high level of quality service and productivity. Young is a member of California Association of School Transportation Officials and the State Contractors Association.
The First Student employees were recognized during the NSTA annual meeting and convention in Charleston, S.C. on July 22.