KANSAS CITY, Missouri — In her 40-plus years in pupil transportation, New Jersey’s Ingrid Reitano has overcome many obstacles, on and off the job.
That has included solving complex transportation challenges — often saving money for school districts — skillfully handling parent concerns, and confronting a crisis in her state association, the School Transportation Supervisors of New Jersey.
Reitano, a mother of one and grandmother of two, has also showed her tenacity during two bouts with cancer. Most recently, she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. As she underwent chemotherapy for three months, she continued her work in school transportation and even volunteered for Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
“I think working made it easier for me,” Reitano says of her time battling cancer. “It was the only place I felt normal and in control. It changed my whole way of thinking: Life is short. Do you what you can. My legacy is going to be the idea that I helped people.”
Reitano has helped people in myriad ways, including mentoring new transportation supervisors, guiding school districts through New Jersey’s demanding state reporting process, and teaching school bus drivers the essentials for keeping their passengers safe.
“Ingrid is someone who tirelessly devoted many hours of her own time to proactively reinforce constant driver education and the safety and security of students,” said Teri Peterson, transportation coordinator at Holmdel (N.J.) Township Public Schools. “Some may consider her to be the matriarch of transportation in New Jersey. I know I do.”
For her leadership, her dedication to safety, and her selfless efforts to help others, Reitano has been named School Bus Fleet’s 2016 Administrator of the Year. SBF presented the award to her at the National Association for Pupil Transportation Summit in Kansas City on Sunday.
Reitano retired as a district transportation director earlier this year, but she still contributes to her state association and conducts safety training at Jay’s Bus Service. An in-depth profile of Reitano will appear in the January issue of SBF.