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Not a day passes without lots of news about our industry. Perusing the news nationally (and now internationally as well) is probably the single best way to get a full picture of the many issues we face, and how different states and communities meet the many challenges and opportunities of operating yellow buses.
There’s story after story about communities struggling to keep buses running amid shrinking budgets, while others are trying to keep up with demand for more buses and routes. There are stories about technology, special-needs transportation and misadventures involving drivers, students and maintenance.
Dirk Kempthorne, the former U.S. senator, Idaho governor and secretary of the interior, summed it up in an interview before speaking at NAPT’s Louisville, Ky., conference several years ago: “The school bus industry is impacted directly or indirectly by almost all of the issues on the national agenda these days. So, if something is on the front page of the newspaper, look downstream and you will find a pupil transportation impact.”
It’s good to be popular! But it’s also good to be prepared for the fame and sometimes blame that comes from providing a vital service that involves the safety of children.
Smart professionals know that learning continuously and developing new skills are critical to getting the job done well, especially with the environment changing constantly. That’s why the annual NAPT Summit is so important. It has the learning tools you need, all in one place. This year, that place will be Kansas City, Missouri, Nov. 8-11.
Budget tight in your state and travel to outside meetings frowned upon because of it? These are the times when attending your professional trade association meeting is even more important, because it provides the opportunity to share strategies with others who share the same challenges and to get first-rate advice from experts.
You can make a strong case that you need to attend as a school bus professional (remind the boss that it’s all business — there’s no golf tournament) by showing her or him just a few of the highlights of the 2014 NAPT “Driving Innovation” conference:
Top speakers like the Hon. Christopher A. Hart, acting chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, and one of the nation’s top transportation safety experts; National Speakers Association Hall of Fame member Steve Gilliland, whose keynote speech will explain the subtle but important difference between accepting change and embracing it; and featured speaker Mark Levin, who will explain and provide concrete examples of the personal and professional return on investment you can expect from professional development and actively participating in non-profit and community-based organizations.
Other speakers will address safety, technology, employee management and budgeting, the transportation of students with disabilities and a wide variety of other topics.
Safety/security. “Experience It — Live!” is a real-world, real-time live action demonstration about the vulnerabilities of your school buses, and strategies for keeping students safe.
Trade show. Not to be missed is our new-format, one-day trade show featuring more than 120 vendors showcasing the latest products and services for your industry.
America’s Best skills challenge. You and/or your technicians, trainers and inspectors can participate in NAPT’s America’s Best competition and put your skills to the test, all while learning from experts in the industry.
Professional development. NAPT is proud of its Professional Development Series (PDS), and this year, we’ll be offering a full slate of opportunities to bolster your professional portfolio.
In addition to the PDS courses, the NAPT board of directors just announced a new professional certification for those involved in transporting students with disabilities: Certified in Special Needs Transportation (CSNT). It will be launched at the Summit in Kansas City.
The core of the new certification is NAPT’s Special Needs Transportation (SNT) training, a series of six learning experiences that are the equivalent of 24 hours of classroom education, which will all be offered at the Summit.
In addition to completing SNT training (six classes), the CSNT designation requires the completion of three designated PDS classes. Finally, to receive certification, individuals will have to successfully complete an exam.
“We’re thrilled to be able to offer this new, higher designation and expect there will be strong demand for it,” NAPT President Don Carnahan said. “We’re the only organization in the industry offering this level of professional recognition.”
As always, our goal is to support pupil transportation professionals and provide them with the knowledge, tools and skills necessary to safely and efficiently transport students to and from school every day. The transition of our SNT program into a certification program is another example of how we are encouraging excellence.