SIBLEY—Amos Kleinwolterink’s travels around the world have honed his skills for the job he holds in his hometown.
The 42-year-old Sibley native is in his second year as the Sibley-Ocheyedan School District’s transportation director. He graduated in 1996 from the high school in Sibley.
“I call myself the new old guy,” Kleinwolterink said. “A lot of things have not changed. The trophy case looks the same, but we’ve got Wi-Fi in the bus barn. We have an IT department. That didn’t exist 20-something years ago.”
As the school district’s transportation director, he oversees 17 drivers and 22 vehicles, including 11 school buses.
“To kind of build it from the ground up for me is fun,” Kleinwolterink said. “To get the team dialed in exactly how I want — that’s the kind of thing I like to do.”
Sibley-Ocheyedan shares him with the neighboring Harris-Lake Park School District.
“I’ve got to wear a Wolves hat on Wednesdays when I go over there and take care of their transportation stuff,” Kleinwolterink said.
He described his duties as a transportation director, which include being a school bus driver and maintaining his fleet of vehicles.
“Just getting those kids where they need to be — whether it be an FFA trip in Indianapolis or bringing the fourth-graders over to practice for their Christmas program,” Kleinwolterink said.
“I like to put that little extra touch on it because I think it really does matter,” he said. “If things are nice and clean, I think that kind of speaks volumes and it lends itself to a better learning environment for the students.”
As far as the former military man is concerned, things are going to get taken care of while he is on the job.
“Making sure everything is safe for the students is kind of the umbrella that I work under,” Kleinwolterink said.
He retired in September 2018 after serving a combined nearly 23 years in the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force.
Kleinwolterink joined the Marine Corps in February 1996 and was first stationed in San Diego.
“I’m kind of always up for an adventure and kind of have a lot of curiosity in me,” Kleinwolterink said. “I started out as a guy who worked in the warehouse in the Marine Corps. That was kind of slow and boring.”
He next joined the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group for about four years.
“I served as internal security in two different embassies — Dhaka, Bangladesh, and then Dublin, Ireland,” Kleinwolterink said.
“That was quite an eye-opener for a 19-year-old kid to kind of be tagging along with the State Department in a foreign country,” he said. “You’re armed up with loaded weapons.”
After being discharged from the Marine Corps as a corporal, he took time off from military duty before joining the Air Force in January 2001.
While he served in the Air Force, Kleinwolterink was stationed in Belleville, IL; Ames; Goldsboro, NC; and Okinawa, Japan.
“In the Air Force, I started out as a fuels guy refueling airplanes and did four years of recruiting,” Kleinwolterink said. “Then I went back to refueling jets after recruiting.
“My last little bit in the Air Force, when I was in Japan, I was at a cryogenic production plant where we made liquid oxygen and liquid nitrogen,” he said.
After retiring from the Air Force as a master sergeant, Kleinwolterink and his family moved to Sibley.
Former Sibley-Ocheyedan superintendent Bill Boer recruited him to be a bus driver for the school district and then almost immediately named him as transportation director.
Kleinwolterink appreciates the support of his wife, Heather, and their three children as well as the support of the workers he oversees.
“You can’t do it by yourself; you certainly can’t,” Kleinwolterink said of his various careers. “Even here at the school, you can’t pull this off by yourself; you sure can’t. It takes everybody.”