KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Student transportation professionals who go above and beyond for the students and communities they serve were honored here at the NAPT Summit.
Here are the 2016 award winners:
The Continuing Education Award, sponsored by Thomas Built Buses, went to Teena Mitchell, the special-needs manager at Greenville County (S.C.) Schools.
Winning the Special-Needs Transportation Award, sponsored by Q’Straint/Sure-Lok, was Launi Harden, transportation director of Washington County (Utah) School District.
The School Bus Driver Training Award, sponsored by IC Bus, went to Fred Anness, pre-service instructor for Warren County (Ohio) Educational Service Center.
NAPT’s Heroism Award was presented to Reneita Smith, who evacuated 20 students when her school bus caught on fire on Sept. 12. Smith was not able to accept the award in person, but Marisa Weisinger, a member of the NAPT awards committee, showed the audience a clip of Smith’s appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres show in October.
Additionally, school bus technicians and inspectors who placed in the America’s Best competition were presented with awards by Marshall Casey, one of the America’s Best organizers.
Casey said that the 38 contestants hailed from 28 states and two Canadian provinces in this year’s competition.
"We challenge [the competitors] to make school buses safer every day, and for everyone around them to do the same," he added.
The national event includes separate competitions for technicians and inspectors, each with a written exam and a hands-on portion. Participants also attend training seminars and tour host facilities.
The top competitors for 2016 are:
1. Aaron Dempsey, Okemos (Mich.) Public Schools
2. Spencer Paige, Clear Creek Independent School District,Texas
3. Donald Ertel, Virginia Beach (Va.) City Public Schools
1. Raymond Dickens, Kanawha County (W.Va.) Schools
2. Ralph Trango, Wake County (N.C.) Public School System
3. Kevin Roe, Special School District of St. Louis County, Missouri
Other awards presented during the Summit included School Bus Fleet’s Administrator of the Year award, which went to Ingrid Reitano of New Jersey, and Frank Di Giacomo, publisher emeritus of School Bus Fleet, was inducted into the NAPT Hall of Fame.