Dedication to Security, Skilled Improvement Drives NAPT President Mitchell

As Teena Mitchell ready to take over the position of president of the Nationwide Affiliation for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) final fall, it made full sense that new skilled improvement was coming to members.

Granted, NAPT was already ready for the rebound from a chronic COVID-19-forced absence. It used street reveals a number of occasions to bridge the hole between stay-at-home orders and a return to in-person conferences.

Then, in October, the primary nationwide convention since 2019 was held. Mitchell as president-elect performed a number one position in planning the occasion, alongside then-president Rick Grisham, NAPT Government Director and CEO Molly McGee-Hewitt, and the remainder of the NAPT and NAPT Basis boards. The affiliation has been engaged on refreshing its Skilled Improvement Sequence over the past couple of years. NAPT has since introduced the evolution of its street reveals, now referred to as the Nationwide Coaching Academy, the primary of which is held this month in Buffalo, New York.

Skilled improvement is extraordinarily essential to Mitchell, as she shared with me for this month’s Q&A. Along with her position with NAPT, she is the full-time particular wants transportation coordinator for Greenville County College District in South Carolina. She can also be in her second yr as an govt board member for the South Carolina Affiliation of Pupil Transportation (SCAPT), serves on the state roadeo committee and is the chairperson for SCAPT Division 5, which represents transportation for college kids with particular wants and who obtain service underneath the McKinney-Vento Homeless Help Act.

STN: What’s your imaginative and prescient in your NAPT presidential time period?

Mitchell: It’s thrilling to start my two-year journey as NAPT president. We’re increasing, rising and dealing to boost each side of our affiliation and the muse. Our mission continues to be to empower and assist pupil transportation. A technique of engaging in this mission is for NAPT to additional our training alternatives, to replace and increase our certifications, and by broadening our curriculum. We’re additionally creating new alternatives in management improvement for our transportation professionals.

Our imaginative and prescient is for each scholar to have entry to secure and environment friendly transportation. Due to this fact, I envision that NAPT will proceed to advocate for public coverage and regulatory aid to additional the pupil transportation trade. Additionally it is my hope that we’ll proceed to determine relationships with different professionals, organizations and state associations in our trade. By working collectively, we will proceed to make the yellow college bus the most secure transportation for our college students.

STN: How did you first grow to be concerned in scholar transportation?

Mitchell: I’ve been concerned with business transportation for many of my profession. I maintain a CDL Class A and B, however I turned concerned with scholar transportation when my 5 youngsters have been younger. It was the right resolution for me to work and have break day when my youngsters have been out of college. Being security oriented, it was the right platform for me to direct my power to learn youngsters.

Scholar transportation turned a profession for me and never only a job. It has enabled me to amass management and administration expertise and to advance professionally.

STN: What made you gravitate to working with college students who’ve Individualized Training Applications?

Mitchell: As a supervisor, my director requested me to change to the world of supporting college students with disabilities. Though on the time I didn’t have a lot expertise on this space, I did settle for the problem. I put all my efforts into acquiring training in transporting college students with disabilities to incorporate the legal guidelines, insurance policies, procedures, gear and greatest practices. I additionally felt it was essential to align myself with trade professionals who might mentor me with their experiences and data on this area. This development in data result in my present place as a particular wants transportation coordinator.

STN: Bus screens or aides have grow to be a focus once more, particularly to assist handle the driving force scarcity but in addition for elevated scholar security highlighted by a current case close to you in Chesterfield County, South Carolina. What’s your perspective on utilizing bus screens?

Mitchell: We should always all the time attempt to “do what’s greatest for our scholar.” This consists of figuring out the wants of your college students, which begins with transportation being concerned with the IEP course of. The IEP workforce decides what providers the person scholar wants, however except transportation is invited to the assembly, the workforce just isn’t conscious of the bus atmosphere or particular questions of safety unique to that faculty bus route. Staffing for every bus ought to be based mostly on every scholar’s IEP, supervision of all the scholars’ medical, bodily, and behavioral wants, in addition to the workers wanted to function gear and to securely evacuate all college students in an emergency. College districts can and will add workers to the bus based mostly on the route wants and on greatest practices.

STN: What’s the largest coaching want(s) you see for varsity bus drivers? Different transportation workers?

Mitchell: Bus drivers obtain a substantial amount of CDL coaching within the secure operation of the college bus. This mandated coaching and the security laws in place on college buses make the yellow college bus the most secure transportation for college kids. Whereas I’m grateful for the mandated coaching, coaching in pupil transportation requires coaching for drivers and attendants on the best way to assist college students with conduct, medical and bodily wants. This coaching ought to embrace training within the completely different disabilities and techniques that work in tough conditions, de-escalation methods, particular gear coaching and evacuation of scholars with disabilities. To retain drivers and make sure the security of our college students, we should assist the drivers and attendants with scholar assist coaching. As our trade and the wants of our college students evolve, our coaching wants evolve as nicely.

Directing a transportation workers is a difficult job. Our administrators, supervisors, routers, trainers and different assist additionally want ongoing coaching to satisfy these wants. These embrace coaching in administration and supervision, management, communication, utilization of know-how and a transparent understanding of state and nationwide legal guidelines and laws.

STN: I can inform that skilled improvement is essential to you. Why? How do you present alternatives in your workforce members at your college district, and the way does that translate to work NAPT is doing for its members?

Mitchell: Not solely is skilled improvement crucial to me as I’ve shared earlier, however it is rather essential to our trade. Lots of our transportation professionals attempt to “continue to learn” and keep abreast of updates and greatest practices of our trade. In any case, that’s how we higher our applications and maintain security on the forefront.

In our district we provide skilled improvement in a number of varieties, we now have labored with the native technical faculty to offer coaching in a number of areas together with inter private expertise, management expertise, workforce constructing and Lean Six Sigma. We additionally provide our workers the chance to take part within the certification program with NAPT. We at the moment have two workers which might be licensed administrators and authorized in LLS. We even have a number of extra workers members working towards NAPT certifications in supervision, particular wants and specialist. Our workers additionally participates in skilled improvement alternatives with our state affiliation of pupil transportation (SCAPT).This interprets to our work at NAPT as a result of NAPT is dedicated to the skilled improvement of our members. We’re working towards updating and increasing our Skilled Improvement Sequence, offering instructional and informational webinars, holding coaching academies, offering skilled improvement occasions and connecting folks inside our trade. I’ve benefited from the mentoring of our skilled leaders, and we hope to increase these mentoring and training alternatives for brand spanking new professionals. An instance of that is our Management Academy for transportation executives that will likely be held in Buffalo, New York on Might 16 and 17. The emphasis will likely be on enhancing your administration, supervision, communication and management expertise.

STN: Is there something you wish to add?

Mitchell: Transportation just isn’t a occupation that people, districts or contractors ought to do alone. It’s a advanced trade with many guidelines, fixed adjustments, and the security of our youngsters is dependent upon how nicely we navigate the complexity of the yellow college bus. You will need to align your self, your district, or your organization together with your state and your nationwide associations. I’m not positive precisely who stated this, however I feel it got here from an African Proverb “If you wish to go quick, go alone, if you wish to go far, go collectively.” Once we work collectively, we will advance our trade with training, advocacy, and management.

NAPT‘s dedication is CLEAR. We offer our members with Communication, Management, Training, Advocacy, and Assets.

STN: Thanks.

Editor’s Be aware: As reprinted within the Might 2024 concern of College Transportation Information.

Associated: Evolving Tech & Security Considerations
Associated: Q&A: Again to College with New NAPT Government Director McGee-Hewitt
Associated: At These College Districts, Investing in Transportation Crew Members Offers Outcomes
Associated: Management Coaching: Challenges & Options

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