CINCINNATI — When Peter Lawrence took a class on planning school facilities at the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) conference here in October, it was a significant occasion — he became the first to finish all of NAPT's Professional Development Series (PDS) courses.
"I attribute a lot of my success in the industry to the PDS classes," Lawrence told SBF later in an interview.
Lawrence, who is director of transportation for Fairport (N.Y.) Central School District, completed his first course in the series in 2000, when the NAPT conference was held in Buffalo. When he took PDS 505, School Facility Planning, in Cincinnati this fall, it was his 41st individual course (he has taken some more than once).
Josh Bresett, education specialist for NAPT, confirmed that Lawrence was the first person to complete all of the PDS courses. There are currently 36 — some that Lawrence has taken in the past aren't still available — but Bresett noted that changes are in the works that will likely result in new classes being added.
On Wednesday, NAPT and School Training Solutions announced that they have now made 26 of the PDS courses available online.
Lawrence said he has done a few classes online, but the vast majority of his coursework has been in person, at events like the NAPT Summit and the New York Association for Pupil Transportation's annual conference. Even his local group, the Rochester Area Transportation Supervisors Association, offers a PDS course each year.
For Lawrence, one of the key benefits of the program is the interaction with colleagues from all over the country.
"The knowledge you gain from others is huge," he said. "They’re phenomenal classes."
One of Lawrence's favorites has been 701, Introduction to Leadership and Management, which is a four-hour workshop aimed at defining the role of leadership for experienced and novice managers.
"It’s a refreshing class — there's a lot of energy to it," said Lawrence, who has not only taken the course but has taught it to others.
For more information on the PDS program, go to www.naptonline.org.