Filled with inspiring and emotionally charged events, the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) Summit, held in Kansas City, Missouri, last week, featured a keynote speech on leadership from a well-known comedian, a sobering but informative active shooter presentation and live event, and an event that honored our veterans, in which they shared what their experiences serving in the military taught them.
On Sunday, comedian, motivational speaker and best-selling author Steve Gilliland gave a keynote speech, titled, “Enjoy the Ride,” filled with humorous anecdotes, jokes and lessons on leadership, sharing words of wisdom from a woman who greatly influenced him in his career: “It’s not where you start or finish in life, it’s the trip," and, "Cure your destination disease.”
That afternoon brought some intense discussion and valuable lessons on how to deal with a scenario we all hope never happens: a violent intruder on a school bus.
Attendees were given the opportunity to take part in a live-action event that simulated a response to an active shooter on a school bus, following an account of the details of the murder of Alabama school bus driver Charles Poland, who was shot by an intruder who then abducted a boy aboard the bus and held him hostage for nearly a week, by Gary Moore, a retired Missouri Highway Patrol captain now serving as safety coordinator for the Missouri Center for Education Safety. Moore then provided tips for drivers who may find themselves in a similar situation.
Afterward, some audience members sat in school buses placed in a loading bay of the convention center, while others watched from the sidelines as someone playing the role of active shooter boarded the bus. Then, a SWAT team stormed the bus.
It was difficult to hear the details of that tragic event last year — including the 911 calls — and think about this type of scenario ever happening again, but a valuable learning experience. I heard some audience members say as much and that they hoped to do some type of active shooter training at their districts.
Another intense but valuable learning experience occurred as the Summit wrapped up last Tuesday, Veterans Day, when NAPT honored our veterans. A panel consisting of three veterans — Joe Seyfarth, transportation director of Festus (Mo.) R-6 School District; Peter Lawrence, director of transportation at Fairport (N.Y.) Central School District; and Steve Simmons, NAPT Region 3 director and director of transportation at Columbus (Ohio) City Schools — discussed the lessons they learned from their time serving in the military. Additionally, Brandon Billingsley, who was slated to participate in the panel to share his experience as an Army Ranger but died unexpectedly last month, was acknowledged for his service in the military and his exemplary innovation in the school bus industry.
Then, Capt. Scott O’Grady, a former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot who was shot down during the Bosnian War, shared with the audience how he survived for six days in enemy territory. Listening to O’Grady recount the horror of his experiences and how he used his skills to survive was powerful and inspiring, and, as with the active shooter presentation and event, it stayed with me for a while afterward.
If you also attended the NAPT Summit, I would love to hear your thoughts on these and other talks and events that took place. Please share them in the comments below.