FRISCO, Texas — Tony Pollard is the supervisor of transportation for Baldwin County Board of Education in Alabama and an attendee at this year’s TSD Conference in Frisco, Texas. We are catching up with him periodically during the week to record his insights from the event and the takeaways he is gleaning.
He said on Sunday that three session especially resonated with him. First was the General Session “Positive Community Interactions with Students with Autism, and especially the two autism trainers who led the discussion.
“Patrick (Mulick) did a great job doing some starter exercises, involving putting each participant in the skin of an autistic child. (It was) a great way to get the juices flowing and questions going,” Pollard said.
Meanwhile, he said that presenter Kate Movius, who is also the mother of a 16-year-old boy on the autism spectrum, “provided a personal touch, which helped the transportation supervisors and directors in the room realize what each parent must deal with daily,” Pollard added. “It is hard to walk through the door of one you do not understand.”
Pollard said the session’s question and answer portion involving the Doug Becker from Frisco ISD and local police officer tied the workshop together.
“The audience was presented with expert in autism spectrum, a parent advocate, a director of transportation, and an officer,” he outlined. “The audience was given the opportunity to ask questions involving scenarios they have had to deal with in the field (schools, stops, and routes).”
Pollard said he then attended the “Bus in The Classroom” workshop presented by Pete Meslin, a member of the TSD Conference Board of Advisors and the director of transportation for Newport-Mesa-Unified School District in Southern California.
“Pete does a wonderful job of seeing things in a different way. His approach is visionary in preparing students for transportation growth,” Pollard said. “The training for loading the bus and preparing students in the different aspects of bus loading and riding procedures can be implemented throughout the country, if people are open to the extra work it would take to implement within the different departments involved.”
Pollard also said he enjoyed the session’s “turn and talk” feature as “a great way to improve upon ideas and needs of school systems involving transportation. Pete did a great job of facilitating these talks and guiding the process.”
He also said he found that the idea of customer approach toward transportation of students demonstrated a caring, loving, and understanding of the needs of parents, students, and even school officials.
“All service providers can be educators,” Pollard added.
During “IEP Team: Opening Doors Between Special Ed and Transportation,” Pollard said another team of experts asked attendees about the IEP team’s role regarding transportation, which may require transportation to ensure it knows what services it is committing to and that the needs of the students being transported are considered, and how special education programs and transportation work well together to that end.
“Time needs to be spent explaining what transportation needs to know regarding each student,” he relayed. “If a BIP (Behavior Intervention Plan) is in place in the classroom, it needs to be in place on the bus.
Pollard said each presenter (Dianna Gates, a physical therapist at Caddo Parish Schools in Shreveport, Louisiana; Launi Harden, director of transportation, and Suraj Syal, special education director, both of Washington County Schools in St. George, Utah; and Shawna Jones, special education supervisor for transportation at Klein ISD in Texas) provided great feedback.
“They provided good examples and helped to reassure that parents still have responsibilities in ensuring their child is transported properly,” Pollard observed.