Member Spotlight: Joshua Griffin, Petersburg City Public Schools


Joshua Griffin is transportation supervisor for Petersburg City Public Schools in Virginia. School BUSRide spoke with him about his district, his recent certifications, and his advice for his peers in the pupil transportation industry.

Please introduce yourself and tell us about your district.

I started driving in 2006 in Caroline County, Virginia. From there, I had the great opportunity to serve as a bus driver trainer and dispatcher behavioral aid. With that, I found out about the NAPT in 2015. I had a conversation with my director, J.D Satterwhite, who submitted the application and wrote a letter of recommendation for me. Once I applied, I completed the required test and passed. This opportunity opened up another world for me.

After getting certified as a pupil transportation specialist, I was given my first experience as a supervisor in King and Queen County. Since then, I have had many wonderful opportunities as a special education teacher, behavior coordinator, and other advancement opportunities in pupil transportation operations.

I later migrated to Southampton County in Virginia as the transportation supervisor. My previous superintendent, Dr. Gwendolyn Shannon, provided excellent leadership training while I was pursuing a national certification as a transportation supervisor. Upon receipt of the certification, I became employed by the Petersburg public school division.

Petersburg public schools is a thriving division, which faces some economic challenges, but through it all, we are really rolling along.

Why is certification important to you and what does it mean for your professional development?

I love what I do, and I love the yellow bus. When you have a job that you have truly fallen in love with and you have compassion for, you don’t mind waking up early in the morning, answering phone calls and staying late in the office, you just do what you have to do.

What really inspired me to work and pursue a certification is because I wanted greater for myself and wanted to go above and beyond the call of duty.

My mother and family always strived to push me in the things I had a passion for. Whatever I wanted to pursue, my mother always gave me her whole support.

Her encouragement pushed me to grow and hopefully be a beacon of light to others so that they may do the same. I really love the NAPT classes. It does challenge you in many aspects. It is not something you can just fly through. It takes time, but it is worth it, and it opens your eyes to broader horizons.

What is the most pressing challenge for your district’s transportation department?

Two things. Number one is keeping the drivers motivated. People say, “You are just a bus driver.” Yes, I was a bus driver, but this bus driver has become a director of transportation. When you want something and you apply yourself, wonderful things happen. With pupil transportation, we need to have opportunities for people to grow. If we cannot provide chances for growth, these folks are just sitting stalemate.  We have to let our drivers know that there are other opportunities other than driving a bus.

Number two is dealing with student discipline. It takes a community to address student discipline with everyone working together. Mechanics, parents, bus drivers, school administration, and community stakeholders. We then have a village to address the behavior issues at hand. 

How are you seeking to solve this challenge?

One great thing is we organized a bus fair in our transportation lot where drivers and bus aids got on the bus, sat behind the wheel (in our private parking lot of course), and converse with our transportation staff.

When people can experience the real thing, they gain better knowledge, they can hear from the current drivers and get an idea of what it is really like.

Also, we are recruiting from employment agencies hoping to obtain candidates for employment.

As a seasoned professional, what advice can you offer other NAPT members?

Continue to grow, educate, and learn.  I am completing my director certification, there are still other classes I would like to take. I would encourage others to always study and stay in the know. Keep up with the latest ideas. Do not get inundated with the job to the point that you feel like you are overwhelmed and you can’t grow.

When you get to the point where you think you know it all, that is not a good state of mind because you are a lifelong learner evolving and changing. Continue to educate yourself and study. Utilize those skills because it is going to help you and your division move to the next level. Shoot for the stars. If you don’t have the passion for it, then you may want to do a self-reflection. An unwillingness to change can be a major hindrance in moving your department to the next level.    

What can the NAPT organization do to best help you?

The conferences are great and they offer a fantastic opportunity to network and learn, but because of the daily demand of the position it is difficult to attend conferences in person. That is why the online courses are so invaluable, because it gives everyone the opportunity to share in that experience. Just seeing more online learning opportunities that would make those classes more accessible year-round, or even posting for local conference would be a tremendous help. 

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