Feb 03, 2017

Giveaways to Group Discussions - and Other Trade Show Fun

5-year-old self (Ashley Stier)When I was little, industry conferences were the best thing in the world. My mother would come home from library shows and bring with her highlighters and stickers, and everything else a child under 10-years-old could want. My father took me to boat and RV shows - and I was in heaven. I loved crawling through the vehicles, and I still have a panda bear made of crafty little pom-poms given to me by an RV vendor.

As an adult, trade shows have never lost their luster. I’ve moved on from loving the giveaways, I now love the grandeur of the show: the size of them, the meeting of new friends and reconnecting with old, the discovery of new products, the glimpses into the futures of industries and the various educational sessions that reveal new opportunities and research. To me, it’s a little like Christmas morning.

Trade shows are easy to love when you’re in the business of education. The possibilities are endless, just like they are for the students we serve. 

92% of people attend a trade show to see new products and be introduced to new features (Source: Trade Show News Network).

So we ask as the trade show season gets into full-swing, that you come with an open mind of learning. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to find something new to love. First Student will be at many national trade shows in the coming months to answer your questions about transportation, safety, routing and partnerships. No question is off limits and to prove our commitment to education and school districts, we want to share our learnings with you.

Below is a list of conference sessions where you can find us sharing our industry knowledge with you.

National School Board Association Annual Conference – Denver, CO
March 25 – 27, 2017
Come see us at Booth #433! We can answer your questions and if you’d like to receive some preliminary information, feel free to email us by clicking here. We will also be hosting four information sessions.

NSBA Educational Sessions (75 minutes)

  • Student Behavior and the School Bus – Integrating Student Behavior Expectation from the Classroom into Your Transportation System:
    Sunday, March 26th from 8:30-9:45AM
    Speakers: Kathy Guthman (Wausau School District PBIS Coordinator), Andy Place (Wausau Principal), Teresa Cole (Sr. Dir. of Safety, FirstGroup America), Gary Catapano (SVP of Safety, FirstGroup America)

    School districts across the country struggle with student behavior management both in the classroom and on the bus. In this session, learn how one school district is achieving success within its school-wide behavior support program by providing students with a consistent set of expectations — whether in school or on the bus. Drivers and administrators are working together to apply positive reinforcement methods that are proving to enhance communication and develop mutual respect.

  • The Multiple Dimensions of Transportation Safety – Panel Discussion: Sunday, March 26th from 3:45-5PM
    Facilitator: Anthony Huey (President, Reputation Management)
    Panelists: Gary Catapano (SVP of Safety for FirstGroup America), Kathy Furneaux (Executive Director of the Pupil Transportation Safety Institute), Dr. Kathleen Williams (Superintendent of Wausau School District), Leslie Kilgore (VP of Engineering for Thomas Built Bus)

    This year, yellow school buses will carry approximately 25 million students to and from school – making school bus transportation the largest form of mass transit in the U.S. As an industry, we dedicate everything we do to keeping our student passengers safe. Safe school transportation is always the result of a partnership across various stakeholders including school districts, students, parents, communities, school transportation service providers and equipment manufacturers.

    Join a panel discussion that explores the multiple dimensions of school transportation safety. Panel members will explore various dimensions of transportation safety including Culture; Administrative Policy and Procedures; Equipment/Operating Practices; and Community Engagement. A variety of best practices will be explored via examples, discussions and a question-and-answer session. A professional facilitator will invite full panel participation and encourage a robust dialogue, while ensuring that various key dimensions are presented and discussed.

NSBA Study Halls (30 minutes)

  • Tips to Maximize Your Routing Investment
    Saturday, March 25th from 3-3:30PM
    Speaker: Dean Suhre (SVP of Performance Improvement for First Student)

    Routing is a critical element of student transportation operations and community service. The effectiveness and communication (or lack thereof) of routing can have a dramatic impact on cost, safety and relationships between your district and the communities you serve. This session will give you an understanding of how school board decisions affect routing and will provide tips for ensuring that your choices positively impact transportation cost, safety and community service.

  • Today's Transportation Contracting: Innovation, Analysis and RFP Writing
    Sunday, March 26th from 12-12:30PM
    Speakers: Todd Steele (VP of Business Development and Growth for First Student), Nathan Baguio (Sr. Dir. of Conversion Sales for First Student)

    Writing a great RFP is the first step toward a successful transportation partnership. But, the process can be daunting. This session will walk you through a few straightforward steps for getting the most out of the RFP process. What details do contractors need to know about your district and operation to bid effectively? What are some common risks that drive up bid costs? Whether you are new to outsourcing or looking to optimize your existing process, gain valuable insights to make your next RFP your best.


Council of Great City Schools Chief Operating Officers Conference – New Orleans, LA
April 4 – 7, 2017

CGCS Breakout/Working Session

  • Best Practices and New Approaches to Driver Training and Recruiting
    Date/Time: TBD
    Speaker: Paul Osland (Chief Operating Officer of First Student)

    It’s no secret for the industry – the driver shortage is taking its toll on transportation operations. In this session, we’ll share our industry knowledge on mitigating the shortage and how to best recruit and train school bus drivers.