Many of us can recall a simpler time in America. You know, back in the 1950s and 1960s when parents gave their children the “when I was your age” lecture about walking many miles to school, in good weather and bad, in hand-me-down shoes with holes in them.
For some, it might have been true. But I suspect most of the stories were allegories to instill an appreciation for all the modern conveniences available and often taken for granted, including the yellow school bus that showed up out of nowhere at the neighborhood bus stop every morning.
Like life in general, most things in the yellow bus world back then were fairly routine and predictable — buses left on their routes in the wee hours, and again in the afternoon, before returning to the “barn” after still another uneventful day doing the mostly unsung work of getting children to and from school on time and safely.
Fortunately, those days are still the norm … mostly. But the modern world of pupil transportation is also much more complex, and it presents many challenges to school bus professionals. Some are just part of the job and not new; others are of more recent vintage, and solutions are more elusive.
The list is long: endless budget battles, driver shortages, fuel price fluctuation, bullying and outright assaults against students and drivers, language barriers, cultural differences, costly federal requirements, “helicopter” parents, terrorism, shuffling of bus routes. These and other issues are now all in a day’s work for those in our industry.
As Confucius once said, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
But for school bus professionals, there is a way to help make the job not as complicated: Attend the NAPT Summit to learn, grow, and interact with others in the industry.
The Summit is a four-day, solutions-focused conference with the latest information tailored to helping you do your job better. “Connecting What Matters” is the theme of this year’s gathering, which will be held Nov. 4-8 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Kansas City is close to dead center of the USA, making it equally accessible to those of us in the East, West, and everything in between.
At the Summit, you’ll have access to four keynote addresses, including the kick-off Monday morning by the Hon. Christopher A. Hart, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Chairman Hart is expected to renew his agency’s call for seat belts in large school buses, presenting the latest from NTSB investigations of school bus crashes. This topic is a matter of continuing interest to our industry, and his presentation will give you important information to take back to your school district.
Other keynoters are Mark Aesch, CEO of TransPro Consulting; Jeff Bauman, a Boston Marathon bombing survivor; and Richard Hight, an artist and expert on change.
There will be 14 in-depth training courses and dozens of topical workshops with something for everyone. The NAPT Summit is the only place where you can earn credits toward national certification with our Professional Development Series courses.
We will also host the industry’s largest trade show, and there will be plenty of social time to connect with peers from across the country and other countries. And the 13th annual America’s Best Inspector and Technician Challenge will be held as part of the Summit.
Day 1, Saturday, Nov. 5, will feature a unique, not-to-be-missed opportunity that alone should be a reason for you to attend the Summit: a security training exercise with law enforcement officers providing instruction and simulating security threats that could occur in pupil transportation. It will be live. It will be realistic. And it will be interactive.
This collaboration between NAPT and the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been tailored to help prevent student transportation security incidents, but to also prepare you to respond, communicate, and recover effectively if such an incident does occur.
Included will be classroom instruction, roundtable discussions, expert presentations, and then three full-scale emergency simulations.
The all-day activities will be held in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. Other participants include the Missouri Highway Patrol, the Jackson County (Mo.) Sheriff’s Office, and the Lee’s Summit Police Department.
NAPT will provide transportation to and from our downtown Kansas City conference venue to the demonstration site, and lunch will be provided.
As you read this, there’s still time to register for the Summit (go to www.napt.org). We hope you’ll decide to improve your professional expertise by joining your industry colleagues in Kansas City.