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Lt. Col. Dave Hadden Earns His (Gold) Star 
Posted 9/24/20

Photo of Lt. Col. Dave Hadden in front of a school busFor almost 14,000 students, each day starts and ends with Bossier Schools’ Transportation department. It is no easy feat overseeing 302 buses and a nearly-equal number of bus operators, along with 40 activity drivers, but Lt. Col. (retired) Dave Hadden gets it done -- and adeptly so, even with a smile.

Hadden’s years of military service shaped his philosophy, previously as an ROTC instructor for Parkway High School and now as the district’s Transportation Director. It has served him well.   

“It instilled in me a set of core values that I try to live by every day,” Hadden said. “That is to do what’s right, even when no one is looking; serve others first; and strive for continual improvement.” 

This school year has been a particular challenge. Already faced with a bus operator shortage and an undersized staff, Hadden had to re-design routes to meet COVID passenger capacity limitations. It was a huge undertaking and one that did not go unnoticed by his colleagues. 

“Every employee has worked so hard at getting ready for the 2020-21 school year and each deserves the award,” wrote Shannon Pilkinton, who nominated Hadden for Bossier Schools’ Gold Star employee award. “I believe Colonel has done an exceptional job preparing all of us at Transportation for this school year. We all know it’s not an easy job prepping 250+ buses, operators, aides and mechanics, along with being front and center with the media. I give Colonel an A+ for a job well-handled and executed, along with keeping it positive.” 

Assistant Superintendent of Administration Jason Rowland also sings Col. Hadden’s praises. The two worked hand-in-hand navigating the opening of school amid a pandemic. 

“STRONG Start 2020 starts and stops with Colonel,” Rowland said. “Transportation is key to everything we do. He never says ‘we can’t do that, but rather ‘we will find a way.’ The responsibility Col. Hadden bears is great, but he doesn’t back away from that. He’s just an incredible employee and is a Gold Star every month to me.” 

Mornings start early with a 6 o’clock dispatcher update that gives the Transportation staff an overview of what they are up against; maintenance deficiencies, road hazards, how to cover routes with no drivers. Hadden puts together a game plan, then monitors routes to ensure students make it to school. The rest of the morning is spent problem-solving and returning phone calls, which are not always, shall we say, pleasant. Still, Col. Hadden looks on the bright side and finds gratification in how his entire team comes together. 

“Seeing and hearing the level of effort put forth by bus operators to ensure students are safely transported to and from school,” Hadden explained. “When a bus goes down or a driver is not available that day, operators work together to ensure no student is left behind.” 

“The thing about Col. Hadden is he’s always positive, he doesn’t complain, he doesn’t gripe, he figures out a way to get things done,” added Superintendent Mitch Downey. “He never wants any attention given to him. He’s one of the most humble people I know. He’s an inspiration to me because of his attitude and everyday how he goes about the tasks and things he’s trying to accomplish. I just think he’s incredible and we are tremendously blessed to have him everyday and he deserves to get every ounce of recognition that he gets.” 

With Hadden at the helm, Rowland and Downey are quick to attest that he has transformed the Transportation department, seeking grants and ways to achieve efficiencies. Rather than looking in the rearview mirror, he is always looking and thinking forward.

Bossier Schools and award sponsor Bossier Federal Credit Union are proud to name Col. Hadden as the first Gold Star recipient of the 2020-21 year, although he is quick to give credit where he says the real credit is due. 

“I appreciate the operators submitting this nomination, but this is more about what they do to get 13,800 students to school each day with an impressive safety and service record,” Hadden remarked. “It’s also a tribute to our mechanics that are consistently improving maintenance practices, and for a staff that strives each day to become an even more effective and efficient operation.” 

 

Editor’s note: Know someone who works for Bossier Schools that is deserving of recognition for going above and beyond? Nominate them for the Gold Star award, proudly sponsored for the last nine years by Bossier Federal Credit Union. Just go to https://www.bossierschools.org/goldstarnews and tell us what sets them apart.