I had the elevator to myself when it stopped on the second floor. As the doors opened, I recognized the first few people stepping in, then a few more and then, well, all of them. The entire board of the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT), as well as Mike Martin, the association’s executive director, packed into the elevator, laughing and apologizing for forcing me into a corner, so to speak.
They had apparently just finished a board meeting, or were preparing to hold one. The location of our shared ride was the Kansas City Marriott Downtown, the host hotel for the NAPT’s Annual Conference and Trade Show in November. (For coverage of the event, see Emergency Preparedness).
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the NAPT board of directors, it’s composed of nine members — president, president-elect, five regional directors and two at-large directors. These people have a lot on their plates. Nearly all of them are school district transportation directors and, as such, have a ton of local responsibilities in addition to their NAPT duties.
Some, like Alex Robinson, transportation director at San Diego Unified School District, are also officers of their state associations (in her case, president of the California Association of School Transportation Officials). Where they find the time to wear all of these hats is a mystery.
The busy get busier
But, somehow, they do it. And well, too. So what separates them from the average pupil transportation professional, who most likely belongs to his or her state association but doesn’t actively participate beyond attending the annual conference?
Desire, I think. That’s what comes immediately to mind. They want to serve, and they don’t mind the conference calls and in-person meetings that are required of them. They don’t mind spending their “free evenings” reading reports and preparing their own. They don’t mind the politics that so often come into play.
Sure, they might enjoy the prominence of belonging to a group of decision-makers that influence an entire industry. We all have egos and like to feel that we stand out from the crowd. But I’m guessing that ego is a minor contributing factor.
The more cynical of us might believe they are merely ambitious and see their roles as board members as a stepping stone to a cushier, higher-paying job. But most of those cynics likely have never served on a board and wrestled with the demands of the position. Also, let’s face it, the pupil transportation industry does not lend itself to professional ladder climbing. This is not an industry filled with CEOs looking to pad their resumes.
New Year’s resolution?
For those of you who belong to an association and have stayed out of the limelight, I suggest that you get out of your comfort zone and volunteer to help out. Just send an e-mail to a board member and let them know that you’re available and what you’re interesting in doing. That might turn into a post on the membership committee, or it might mean that you have to help write articles for the association newsletter. Whatever it is, you should take it on. Somehow, you’ll find time to do all the other things that are on your plate.
If you need advice on how to juggle additional responsibilities, just ask any of the NAPT’s board members; I’m sure they can give you plenty of hints. You can find their contact information in the section called “About NAPT” at www.napt.org.