In our October 2013 issue, I discussed the benefits of professional development and certification programs for pupil transportation professionals.
In that editorial, I noted that Peter Lawrence, director of transportation for Fairport (N.Y.) Central School District, became the first person to complete all of the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT)’s Professional Development Series courses in 2011.
That on its own was a remarkable accomplishment. Now, add to it this update: In late March, after four years and countless hours of academic work, Peter achieved the title doctor of education.
Drive for a doctorate
Peter, who describes himself as a “lifelong learner,” began working on his doctorate in 2010 at nearby University of Rochester. The degree is in educational leadership, specializing in K-12.
For his dissertation, Peter targeted a pertinent pupil transportation topic: ways to achieve cost savings in bus maintenance. Beyond the practical findings of the dissertation, Peter told us that the doctorate program helped him to build his skills in decision making, critical thinking and problem solving.
Learning more about different types of educational systems was another key benefit of the doctorate program. One assignment that Peter said was particularly insightful was shadowing a principal at a rural school for a day.
The workload was heavy: Peter estimated that he put in about 1,000 hours in just the last year as he worked on his dissertation. That was in addition to continuing his full-time job as director of transportation (although he made use of vacation days when major deadlines drew near). At the peak, he was averaging 10 hours a day at the university and operating on about four hours of sleep per night.
In addition to the array of knowledge he gained and the skills he built in the doctorate program, Peter said that he expects the degree to benefit his career path.
“I’m sure that, down the road, it will open doors that might not have been available to me,” he said.
Peter’s hard work in pursuit of lifelong learning is inspiring. It’s a reminder to all of us that we can advance our knowledge and build our credentials — if we’re willing to put in the extra hours and do the legwork.
As I noted in my October editorial, there are numerous professional development options for people in our industry. For example, NAPT provides four certifications for different pupil transportation positions: director, supervisor, specialist and driver instructor. The association also offers the Special Needs Transportation Training Endorsement, the Leading Every Day Initiative and the Professional Development Series.
Also, NAPT and other national and state associations hold conferences every year. Participating in conference workshops, listening to keynote speakers and networking with colleagues can all be great opportunities to learn new ways to do our jobs better.
This summer or fall, I encourage you to attend a conference, take a course or find some other way to keep on learning.