Published Saturday, October 13, 2012
By REBECCA LEFTWICH
When Steve Addison Jr. was named second-place winner in a national bus technician competition, his wife, Bethany, couldn’t have been prouder.“She had it on Facebook before I was finished shaking hands,” said Addison, whose wife traveled with him to Rocky Mount, North Carolina, last month and was on hand to watch him take on 20 other state winners in the America’s Best School Bus Technician and Inspector competition.
“It’s definitely a feeling of accomplishment,” said Addison, an eight-year employee of the Coweta County School System who earned the Georgia championship in June.
Two technicians from each of the state’s Regional Education Services Agency districts competed in the state event – sponsored by the Georgia Department of Education’s Pupil Transportation Division – where fellow Coweta County School System technician Jamie Cash also placed among Georgia’s top mechanics. Addison has competed in the state event for four years, claiming this year’s title at the 50th annual Workshop for School Bus Technicians held at North Georgia Technical College in Clarkesville.
At the national event in North Carolina, Addison competed against 20 other state winners, first completing an hour-long, comprehensive written exam. In a four-hour practical portion, technicians visited stations to perform diagnostics and prepare written reports on problems and fixes for everything from transmissions to electrical and coolant systems.
Alan Fidler of Lafayette, Indiana, was named top technician but Addison said there was not a sense of rivalry but of brotherhood among all of the competitors.
“As soon as we got finished, we were there asking each other, ‘Hey, what did you get for this one? Were you able to figure this one out?’” he said. “All the guys there were on the same level. It was a very tough competition, but we had a blast.”
“It’s a big honor, and we’re very proud of Steve,” said Coweta County School System Transportation Director Judy Gresham.
Addison demonstrated a talent for working with engines at age 10, when he began helping his grandfather at Gentry Motors in Newnan. His father, Steve Sr., is an HVAC technician for the Coweta County School System, so no one was surprised when Addison – a Newnan High School graduate – went on to formally train as a mechanic at the Universal Technical Institute in North Carolina and at West Georgia Technical College.
“It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do,” said Addison, whose off time includes spending time with Bethany and their toddler daughter – whose footprint is tattooed on Addison’s arm – and playing in a band on weekends.
Coweta school system technician Tim Thrower was a state champion who competed in nationals in 2010, and the school system’s transportation department has been West Georgia regional competition champion for four consecutive years. Gresham said that’s further proof of an outstanding staff.
“We’re proud of all our technicians here,” she said. “Every service and repair mechanic is very highly skilled, and all are extremely dedicated employees, and it shows.”
Coweta school system buses are inspected on a regular 21-day schedule throughout the year, “and our maintenance record is excellent” said Gresham, who directly attributes that spotless record to employees like Addison and his fellow technicians.
“They all have a hand in that,” she said.