School Classified Employee of the Year Spotlight: Alan Button

Monday May 6, 2024

This is one in a series of stories highlighting the 2024 Kern County School Classified Employees of the Year Selections. Eight employees were selected by a committee from a pool of thirty nominees in a variety of job classifications. The eight are now eligible for the statewide award program.

Starting his day before the sun rises, Lead Mechanic Alan Button always arrives at the Kern County Superintendent of Schools (KCSOS) Service Center with two goals in mind: to make a positive impact and ensure that every vehicle he oversees is safe and ready to serve the community’s most precious cargo—its children.

Button started in the automotive industry when he was 18, doing preventative maintenance such as oil changes and tire rotations. Eventually, Button went on to lead a team for an oil change company, giving him valuable managerial experience. After ten years working in the industry, he found he wanted something more rewarding in his career and decided to apply to KCSOS for a new automated service worker position. 

 I’m glad to know that if anyone ever needs our assistance, Alan will give individualized attention.

James McClelland
KCSOS director of Transportation Services

“Although this position was more entry-level, I applied anyway and decided I would work hard to move up,” said Button. “I had high aspirations and knew that it was the best fit for me as soon as I joined. It was the best decision I ever made.”

That perseverance is what helped Button go from an automotive service worker when he joined KCSOS in 2016 to a lead mechanic by the end of 2019. According to James McClelland, director of transportation services and Button’s nominator, Button worked hard to learn all he could about the school bus industry, even earning his Automotive Service Excellence (ASC) Certification as a school bus technician while working full-time. 

Button’s leadership skills were put to the test in 2020 when the pandemic hit. As a lead mechanic, he was responsible for navigating the challenges caused by the pandemic while still ensuring the safety of his team and the vehicles they maintained. Whether it was leading a shift with a reduced staff or handling last-minute requests, Button demonstrated his adaptability and commitment to his role.

“Looking back, I had to put myself in their shoes and had to be willing to work alongside them in whatever challenge they were facing,” said Button. “No matter how big or small, I was always there when I could be.”

Striking the perfect balance between ensuring his team is working efficiently and helping to resolve any issues that bus drivers may have on the road requires a communicative person who is willing to do whatever it takes to ensure children make it home safely. According to Button, that wouldn’t be possible without the supportive management and supervisors he has found at KCSOS. Yet, if you ask his supervisors, it is Button who can be seen performing this balancing act with perfection.

“Communication is key in his position,” said McClelland. “He ensures that all stakeholders receive the necessary information when an issue or concern arises. I’m glad to know that if anyone ever needs our assistance, Alan will give individualized attention.”

Alan Button’s commitment to safety and training extends beyond his role as a lead mechanic. In addition to managing his team of 13 mechanics, he has taken on additional duties that reflect his passion for training and interacting with students. This includes volunteering to give tours to students and training bus drivers on basic mechanical knowledge so they can use it if they encounter a minor issue on the road. His dedication is further demonstrated by the creation of training manuals during his off-hours, ensuring each bus driver has the necessary material when they need it. 

When he’s not in uniform working on buses, Button enjoys playing guitar with his country music band, Sons of Bakersfield. His band recently found the time to record an album earlier this year and hopes to do more shows around town throughout the year. He also spends as much time as he can with his family and fixing up things around his home. 

By Jennifer Bryan

By Jennifer Bryan

Jennifer Bryan joined Kern County Superintendent of Schools in 2021 as a Communications Specialist. As a creative and motivated marketing communications specialist, she has a special knack for storytelling and content creation. Born and raised in Kern County, Jennifer has worked in major industries within the region such as agriculture and oil and gas before she made the transition to education.