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September 01, 2006  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

NSTA eyes challenges, successes

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Corr closed the annual meeting by expressing his appreciation to the membership, committees, staff and board of directors for all of their support and continued efforts in helping better the association.

Corr said his goals continue to be to increase the membership base, increase member benefits, increase synergy of the three national associations and increase public awareness as it pertains to safety in school transportation.

One of the highlights of the meeting was the annual awards ceremony, which honored nearly a dozen individuals who have contributed significantly to the improvement of the pupil transportation industry.

During the awards ceremony, Donald Fowler of Fowler Bus Co. in Richmond, Mo., was presented with SCHOOL BUS FLEET’s Contractor of the Year award for his contributions to the industry on the local, state and national levels. SBF Publisher Frank Di Giacomo cited Fowler’s unwavering support at the state and national levels, including serving on the NSTA’s board of directors for more than 10 years.

The Hall of Fame Award was presented to John Elliott, president of Durham School Services, and Kevin Clifford, owner and CEO of Huntington Coach Corp. in Huntington Station, N.Y.

Elliott was honored for his long-term efforts on behalf of pupil transportation. He has been involved in education for 34 years, beginning as an English and history teacher in Kankakee, Ill. He began his transportation career in 1972 by joining KAL Leasing. He became a member of Ryder Transportation when KAL was acquired. He is the former president of First Student Inc., formerly Ryder Transportation.

Clifford has been in the school bus contracting business for more than 50 years. Under his leadership, his business has grown from 100 vehicles to more than 775 vehicles. He has facilitated the acquisition of three school bus contractors and has successfully converted school districts to privatized operations.

The Distinguished Service Award went to Lyle Stephens of Special Transportation Inc. in Punta Gorda, Fla. Stephens is known for his activism in the area of special-needs transportation. He lobbied to require the federal government to develop guidelines for the safe transportation of children in wheelchairs.

Peter Grandolfo, a highly regarded expert in school transportation, was the posthumous winner of the NSTA’s first Oustanding School Transportation Administrator Award. Grandolfo, who died in January at the age of 59, was director of student transportation at Chicago Public Schools for 30 years and most recently was employed at the Northside Learning Center, a school that serves students with cognitive disabilities. Grandolfo’s wife, Linda, accepted the award and shared some stories about him with the attendees.

Four people received the Golden Merit Award, recognizing excellence in service, safety and outstanding demonstration of community responsibility: Tim Gunn of Durham School Services in Oakland, Calif.; Cal Hull of First Student Inc. in Vancouver, Wash.; Beatrice Kunde of First Student Inc. in Danville, Ill.; and Chloe Williams of B.R. Williams Inc. in Woodstown, N.J.

The Thomas Built Buses Continuing Education and Professional Growth Grant was awarded to Robert Nelson of Dousman Transport Co. in Dousman, Wis. He is the president and general manager of Dousman Transport and is actively involved with the NSTA, the Wisconsin School Bus Contractors Association and the Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials.

The Outstanding Driver Service Award was presented to Elizabeth Bamberger of Huntington Coach Corp. She has worked at Huntington for 26 years and is committed to helping disadvantaged children and raising the awareness of her coworkers of the importance of helping others.

The NSTA’s midwinter meeting is scheduled Jan. 28-31, 2007, in Tucson, Ariz. Next year’s annual meeting and convention is scheduled July 14-18 in Boston. For more information about the NSTA, call (800) 222-NSTA or visit

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