Transportation: Solving a 3D puzzle

Adam Johnson is new to his role as executive director of transportation for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. But he's no newcomer to the world of school buses. "All I've ever known is pupil transportation," he said.

Johnson started driving a bus 22 years ago, when he was 19, as a way to pay for college. He majored in public relations and Spanish at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Since then, he's held a variety of transportation jobs. From 2002 to 2006, he was a transportation specialist for CMS in the Vance area. He worked as transportation director for Union County Schools and most recently worked for Gregory Poole Equipment.

For Johnson, transportation management is a complex puzzle that he loves to solve. "In the earlier days of my career, pupil transportation was a big, traditional puzzle. Now it's a 3-D puzzle. It is more complex. It takes more time to figure out where all the pieces go. But when it works, it works and everything fits together."

The decision to come back to CMS was an easy one. "There are lots of people that I know here and this is a really strong team," he said. "This is one of the largest transportation areas in the country and I am really excited to help drive, no pun intended, this team."

Over the summer, Johnson and his team will be securing drivers and finalizing routes. "We want to create a product that works, that our community is happy to have."

He is already thinking of ways to connect with transportation employees. "I've attended and presented at several national conferences," he said. "There's an undertone at all of them that transportation workers don't feel valued or appreciated the way that they should. So we're going to take the time to make sure that they feel valued like the professionals they are."

He is also thinking of new ways to connect with parents and families. "For anyone driving in Charlotte traffic, the experience can be stressful," he said. "Getting our students to school safely, so they can learn, is our top priority."