FRISCO, Texas — Maine took home the top prize Saturday night at the 18th Annual National Special Needs Team Safety Roadeo, co-sponsored by School Transportation News and the National Association for Pupil Transportation. Drivers Lisa Gadway and Gregg McGoff from the Maine School Administrative District #49 earned first place for their performance in the competition.
The room erupted with applause after Alexandra Robinson, executive director of the Office of Pupil Transportation at the New York City Department of Education, announced the winners from Fairfield, located about 24 miles north of Augusta.
Sharon Brown and Marion Pingel of the Van Buren Intermediate School District in Lawrence, Michigan came in second place, while Ronnie Willoughby and Rhonda Vaughn, who were representing the Texas Association for Pupil Transportation took home third place.
“It was close, as always,” said Robinson of the teams who placed.
Eighteen teams each consisting of a driver and monitor from different states and districts across the country took part in the competition earlier Saturday at Frisco ISD, which also hosted the Roadeo in 2013. Experts in student transportation evaluated the teams’ performance in 10 different categories including wheelchair loading and securement, behavior management and emergency evacuation. There was also a written test
Pete Meslin, transportation director at the Newport-Mesa Unified School District and one of the roadeo’s lead judges, told STN one of his favorite parts about judging the roadeo is watching how participants sometimes demonstrate how they go the extra mile to better serve their students.
“I think it’s neat to see participants show they have learned some of the finer points,” he said, adding that while “everyone knows how to be safe,” it is often learning the greater details that can make a difference for children.