For her contributions to special-needs transportation and her excellence in directing the transportation program at California’s second-largest school district, Alexandra H. Robinson was named SCHOOL BUS FLEET’s Administrator of the Year for 2000.
She accepted the award at the National Association for Pupil Transportation’s annual conference and trade show in Buffalo, N.Y. “It’s incredible to be associated with the people who have won this award before,” said Robinson, transportation director at San Diego Unified School District. “It’s an impressive group.”
Robinson has been with the San Diego district for the past four years and previously served as supervisor of exceptional student transportation at the Florida Department of Education. Robinson credited her staff in San Diego with helping her make the transition to director of a large, complex transportation operation. “It certainly helps to have an outstanding organization to work for and a great staff to work with,” she said. “I learn something new every day.”
Charlie Hood, a past Administrator of the Year and Robinson’s supervisor when she contracted with the Florida Department of Education, praised her management skills. “Alex possesses a rare combination of interpersonal and technical skills,” he said. As an example, Hood said Robinson had learned the names of dozens of staff members by the end of her first day in San Diego. Explained Robinson, “It was the least I could do for the 40 or so people who support me every day.”
High industry visibility
Robinson is a well-known figure in the pupil transportation industry, particularly for her contributions in the area of special-needs transportation. She chaired the Special-Needs Writing Committee for the 2000 National Conference on School Transportation and currently chairs NAPT’s Special-Needs Committee.
As a presenter at local, state and national conferences, Robinson has addressed a wide array of special-needs transportation topics, including wheelchair mobility and securement, special-education legal issues and transportation of students with special medical needs. Working with the California Association of School Transportation Officials (CASTO), she recently co-authored “Access and Mobility,” a handbook on special-needs transportation that has been distributed throughout California and has gained attention nationally as well. “It’s been a huge success,” she said. “We’re ready for a second printing.”
Started in the classroom
Originally from New York City, Robinson began her work with students with disabilities in Connecticut as a counselor and teacher of children with severe autism. She moved to Florida to continue her work in behavior disorders and has been an educator and behavior specialist for students with severe emotional disturbances.
As a teacher, Robinson said she didn’t pay much attention to school buses until she was recruited to serve as a liaison between schools and bus drivers. This experience, she said, helped her to understand the “connection between what was going on in the bus and what was happening in the classroom.” With bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and music and a master’s in education, Robinson said she never imagined that she would end up running a school bus operation. She recalls attending her first NAPT meeting in 1994. “I remember thinking, ‘How on earth can people devote so much to school buses,’” she said. “But we all start to bleed yellow after a while."