Inside ECS: Tim Lockhart, Transportation

Years ago, assistant supervisor of transportation Tim Lockhart met a young girl who was afraid of riding the bus. To help the girl become comfortable, Tim arranged a personal bus ride for the girl and her father, which ultimately eased her fears about buses. It’s experiences like this that Tim reflects on as he nears his upcoming retirement on June 1.

For over 13 years, Tim has played a critical role in the daily transportation of 8,000 people to Elkhart Community Schools, including babies as young as 7 weeks in the TAPP program and adults up to 22 years old in the Young Adult program. But Tim’s career with young people began long before his days at Elkhart Community Schools.

Tim’s professional career began as a probation officer, then he was promoted to the chief probation officer working with youth. While at this job, Tim saw that his efforts were in reaction to the choices youth made. For the next 20 years, Tim worked with Lifeline – a faith-based ministry that helped at-risk students avoid making poor choices. While at Lifeline, a discussion with ECS employee Terry Chomer led him to become a substitute driver for the district. Tim never set out to work for a school district, but when an assistant supervisor position opened up five years later, Tim saw it as an opportunity to use his experience to make a difference.

“A large part of my job is student discipline – working with students and families to understand how to make better choices while on the bus,” says Tim. “I always strive to help everyone understand the situation fully and to see that there are always two sides, to be fair and have integrity. I’ve been able to use my past experiences to help students make good choices. The best part of my job is really reaching students and feeling like I have an impact on their decisions.”

Another part of Tim’s job is to ensure special education buses are properly equipped to accommodate the varying needs of special education students. This means meeting with students and parents to inspect wheelchairs to make sure everything will fit together in a manner that is safe for transportation, or making sure students with physical disabilities are able to enter, exit, and ride safely. “To see a student who has never been able to climb the stairs in a traditional school bus, who is now able to climb the stairs and get on the bus because of accommodations we’ve made – it’s a tremendous feeling.”

Tim is extremely proud of the transportation department, crediting the professionalism of the team. He says that bus drivers understand the importance of being the first person a student sees, saying “our drivers really try to help set a positive tone for the students’ day. They understand how important it is and they really care about our kids.”

Outside of work, Tim enjoys spending time outdoors and working in his yard. He also enjoys spending time with his grandchildren, and is looking forward to making them a focal point of his upcoming retirement. He and his wife Karen (a retired ECS teacher) are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their 12th grandchild, and looking forward to traveling and camping with their grandchildren. Tim and Karen are also looking forward to a land-sea cruise to Alaska to celebrate his retirement.