Kids are back in school, the leaves are changing color and the air is cooling — all signs that autumn is upon us. But for me, the unofficial start of the season is the annual National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) Summit.
This year, folks from all over the school bus industry will be heading west (or other directions) to Portland, Ore. It’s the first time the event has been held in a western state since 2003, when it was in Salt Lake City.
There are many reasons to attend the NAPT Summit. One is the exceptional speakers. Over the past few years, NAPT has been raising the bar on its lineup of lecturers and attracting some big names.
If you attended last year in Louisville, Ky., you got the chance to hear a keynote address from Dirk Kempthorne, the former senator, governor and U.S. secretary of the interior.
In Portland, one of the featured speakers will be Hall Davidson of the Discovery Channel. Davidson, who is a former classroom and television educator and Emmy Award winner, will discuss his diverse teaching experiences and will talk about using technology to create new knowledge. Davidson taught middle and high school English, mathematics, Spanish and bilingual mathematics before leaving the classroom to teach math on television in Los Angeles.
Another NAPT speaker whom you may have seen on TV is Matt Roloff. He and his family are featured on the hit series Little People, Big World. Roloff has proven successful in overcoming the challenges imposed on him by diastrophic dysplasia, a rare form of dwarfism. The entrepreneur, author and advocate for all people with differences will share advice on how to make positive changes at work, at home and in our communities.
From the government sector, Kevin Jennings will give a presentation titled “Creating an Environment Where Everyone Can Learn: Addressing Bullying and Harassment in Our Schools.” Jennings, the assistant secretary of education and director of the U.S. Education Department’s Office of Safe & Drug Free Schools, will explain the importance of eliminating bullying and harassment, which detract from a student’s ability to focus on learning. He will also discuss how President Obama’s Education Department plans to make schools safer as part of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
As usual, the NAPT Summit boasts an impressive array of educational workshops. Just a few of the topics to be covered are bus stop safety, in-service training, distracted driving and budget cuts.
We’ll also get to hear from some of the locals. Officials from Salem-Keizer Public Schools will speak on the importance of understanding your organizational culture and on mentoring new drivers. The Beaverton School District will talk about its use of a unique labor-management team to effectively and quickly address issues that might otherwise have gone to grievance and arbitration. And Albany’s school transportation department will give a presentation on extending “the honeymoon” — when the answer to most reasonable requests is “yes.”
Throw in the two-day trade show, abundant networking opportunities and a variety of special events, and it’s clear that a trip to the Summit is well worth the investment. I hope to see you there.