There are many well-established benefits of attending school transportation conferences. To name a few: learning best practices, networking with colleagues and discussing solutions to common challenges.
But there are also the unexpected experiences that add a healthy dose of fun to the proceedings and leave you with a smile on your face. For me, one of those experiences came in the form of a school bus snow globe.
Kim Hamilton, executive director of the Oklahoma Association for Pupil Transportation (OAPT), presented this snow globe — which contains a tree-lined school campus with little yellow buses parked in front — to me at the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) Summit in Kansas City, Missouri, earlier this month.
The funny thing about it was that I had met this snow globe before, two years ago, and I didn’t expect to see it again. But Kim wasn’t going to let me go home without it.
This decorative dome’s journey started at the NAPT Summit in Memphis, Tennessee, in 2012. During a Thomas Built Buses evening event, I won the snow globe as a raffle prize. But it was packaged in Styrofoam in a large box, and I didn’t think I’d have room to bring it home in my suitcase.
I offered the globular gift to the other folks at my table, one of whom was Kim Hamilton. She agreed to take custody of the snow globe, but she insisted that she would return it to me one day.
To be honest, I didn’t really think that she would get the snow globe back to me, and I soon forgot about it.
Kim wasn’t able to attend the next NAPT Summit, which was in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 2013. But for this year’s Summit in Kansas City, she joined a delegation of about a dozen Oklahomans who drove for several hours to the conference.
Kim told me later that as executive director of OAPT, it’s very beneficial for her to attend a national conference like the NAPT Summit. The information that she gleans and the contacts that she makes help her in providing educational content and training opportunities for OAPT members.
As an example, during this year’s NAPT Summit, Kim attended the active-shooter response presentation. She found the presentation so engaging and informative that she recruited speaker Gary Moore of the Missouri Center for Education Safety.
“I gave him my business card and said, “I’ll do whatever it takes to get this to [OAPT’s] summer conference,” Kim recalled.
Moore accepted the offer. Kim also invited Tre’ Watts — the teenager who made the 911 call in the Midland City, Alabama, school bus shooting and kidnapping last year — and Tre’s father to come to the OAPT conference. And she’s working on plans to bring in a SWAT team for a live-action demonstration, like the one at the NAPT Summit.
Clearly, Kim went to NAPT on a mission to benefit the members of OAPT who weren’t able to attend. But she had one other task to attend to.
On the last night of the Summit, during NAPT’s 40th anniversary networking party, Kim found me. She handed me a large box. Inside, cushioned in thick Styrofoam, was the school bus snow globe. This time, I made room in my suitcase and brought it home.
For now, this well-traveled snow globe adorns a dresser in my sons’ bedroom. But don’t be surprised if it makes an appearance at next year’s NAPT Summit.
Thomas McMahon is executive editor of School Bus Fleet.