First Student, the Washington and Union School District’s bus provider, is starting the new school year with a new location manager.
Brandon Swyers, 29, assumed the position May 27. He moved his family to Washington earlier this summer from Jefferson City.
Swyers has been with First Student more than five years, starting as a part-time bus driver in 2008. He was promoted to dispatcher a couple of years later.
He said one of the challenges he faced coming on the job was learning the routes and areas for both the Washington and Union school districts.
“There are a lot of rural areas around here. Jefferson City is so compact,” he said. “I still do a lot of driving. Every weekend we go out and learn the area. That was a huge challenge.”
Another challenge, Swyers said, was filling vacancies left after the end of last school year.
“There’s a lot of new blood here,” he said. “We only have three more applicants who have to pass the test (for commercial driver’s license), but so far everyone we’ve hired has passed the test.”
Swyers said he was a little worried about gaining the respect of the employees since he is so young.
“There are drivers here who have been driving longer than I’ve been around,” he said. “But everyone has been really great.”
Swyers said he and his wife Shanna love living in Washington and have a lot of fun driving through the countryside and visiting some of the local wineries and antique shops.
“We love the culture here,” he said. “We fell in love with the downtown area and it seems like there is a festival or something going on every weekend. Everyone is really friendly here.”
Swyers has two daughters, both born on May 17, one year apart. The oldest just turned one. He said he plans to stay planted here for a long time, maybe even permanently.
“We moved around a lot when I was a kid,” he said. “I’ve always said once my kids start school, then that’s where we will stay. I want them to grow up with the same friends in the same neighborhood.”