For the past several years, School Transportation News has offered attendees of the NAPT Summit Trade Show the opportunity to win an all-expense-paid trip to the North American School Bus EXPO Conference in Reno, Nev. After acquiring the National Conference on Students with Special Needs & Preschoolers last March, STN also awarded a free trip to Frisco, Texas.
The lucky winner last fall in Memphis, Tenn., by way of a "re-gift," was Sheila Tipton (above) of DeSoto County Schools in nearby Hernando, Miss. Debbie Yancy, the purchasing clerk for DeSoto's transportation department, played the game "Plinko" that was made famous by the game show "The Price is Right." The contestant drops circular "chips" down slots on a board and attempts to win a prize. In this case, the prize was a certain number of entries into a drawing. At the game's conclusion, STN staff randomly selected the winner, that being Tipton who asked if she could instead give the all-expenses paid trip to Tipton, the district's special education supervisor.
An 18-year veteran of the district, Tipton started as a teacher assistant and bus driver before becoming a Title I secretary and then a dispatcher and router. She has overseen the district's special education transportation for the past year. As such, she had never attended the TSD Conference, which is why Yancey passed along her grand prize.
"I hope to gather information to help enhance our district," Tipton said of attending next month's conference. "I just want to make sure we have all the available information necessary to continue moving our district forward."
DeSoto County transports approximately 925 students with special needs each day. Tipton said that the homeless student population has spiked during the current school year, so she'll also be taking advantage of curriculum that discusses how districts must and meet the mandate of the federal McKinney-Vento Act.
The conference's networking opportunities are an added plus.
"I feel that as you meet and share ideals it helps to keep you striving forward," Tipton added.