The start of this school year was the start of a great addition to our transportation team. The school board approved the new position of School Administration Manager (SAM) and hired Taylor Howard.

The success we saw with the SAM position at Spring Creek 6th Grade center provided the data we needed to move forward with the SAM position in the transportation department. And we’re already seeing success – bus referrals have gone down by half since the beginning of the school year!

The SAM position reports to Assistant Junior High Principal, Jacob Bartels, and assists Dan Schultz, our director of transportation, by processing calls from parents, handling student behavioral issues and providing valuable resources to our drivers. Providing support to building principals allows them to focus on instruction. It also allows our director of transportation to work on ensuring our entire fleet of buses runs as efficiently as possible. We have 82 buses in our fleet. We run 44 bus routes, transporting over 4000 students every school day.

Mr. Howard’s goal is to establish and maintain a safe climate on all of our buses. He accomplishes this in several different ways:

1. Processing and documenting bus referrals in Infinite Campus, and working with families on behavior issues
2. Riding the school buses and going out to the buildings to talk with students about safety, setting proper expectations and just getting to know them
3. Advising and coaching bus drivers on ways to more effectively work with students
4. Maintaining open communication with drivers, leadership, students and parents
5. Reviewing video to proactively identify potential problems areas and provide solutions

Taylor has been part of the Ram Fam since 2013, previously holding Level 1 Special Education positions at Mitchellville for 6 years and Willowbrook for 2 years. Also serving as a model teacher, Taylor brings years of experience with him into this position. Helping others, developing solutions and providing guidance comes naturally to Taylor. He’s currently working on the implementation of a PBIS program for buses to mimic what happens in the buildings and has already started driver training.

Four Mile Principal, Tammy Steenhoek shared: “Four Mile Elementary is grateful to Southeast Polk for creating the SAM position, and specifically for hiring Mr. Howard to fill the role. He has been a valuable asset in launching and revisiting our PBIS Rams Way bus expectations, supporting building leadership with the referral process, assisting with bus safety and evacuation training, and positively connecting our students, staff members, drivers, and families. He is a great communicator with students and families; who have also expressed appreciation for Taylor’s proactive and positive approach.”

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“It is the most rewarding experience to work with students and families and find solutions that work. Through these partnerships and relationships, my goal is to make sure riding a Southeast Polk bus is a better experience for everyone!” Howard shared, “Talking with other metro schools – none of them have this position. I love how SEP is being proactive and at the forefront of the leading edge.

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Director of Transportation Dan Schultz shared, “I love having him! With Taylor acting as a liaison between our department and the students, parents, drivers and staff, I can work with our drivers and the mechanics focusing on the maintenance and operations of the entire department. I think every transportation department needs a SAM!”

Dan also shared how this position helps give administrators new insight into all that happens behind the scenes to get thousands of students to school and back home every day.

Congratulations to Taylor on his new position within the district! We’re so glad to see the positive development with our students, parents and staff! Be sure to introduce yourself if you see him on your student’s bus!