WYOMING PUPIL TRANSPORTATION ASSOCIATION
What started as a rotating gathering of transportation personnel in the early seventies has grown into one of the largest educational conferences in Wyoming. The first WPTA Workshops were no more than a large "company picnic" where transportation personnel could view vendors wares, share school bus war stories and get some much needed recognition for the exemplary work they do.
In the early 1980's, the Wyoming Department of Education took a more proactive role in the WPTA and the workshops started focusing more on education and job skills. The "School Bus Rodeo" offered an opportunity for school bus drivers from around the state to test their driving skills by competing against their peers by driving different classes of school buses through an obstacle course designed to test the mettle of even the finest driver. These competitions were often judged by the Wyoming Highway Patrol, always an active supporter of the WPTA endeavors.
In the 1990's, pupil transportation was experiencing a new generation of problems mirroring national and educational problems that caused a need for much greater skills for pupil transporters. More emphasis was placed on problem solving skills in such diverse areas as student behavior management, special education, drug awareness, public relations, sexual harassment and health and safety. Most of these workshops were held at pubic schools throughout Wyoming with classes taught by mostly volunteer individuals generally associated with the local hosting community. Various school bus vendors would often times take a proactive role and donate training service in their specialty field.
As word spread about the fine work the association was doing at these workshops, the conference attendance grew until, at the 1996 workshop, 625 participants converged on the little town of Douglas, Wyoming, (population 5,000) and it became readily apparent that the conference had outgrown the local high schools and was ready for a change of venue. In 1997 the conference moved to the Parkway Plaza Convention Centre in Casper, WY to accommodate the needs of this ever expanding organization. With this new location, and the increasing conference attendance, the organizers were able to offer a much more diverse curriculum for the participants. Nationally recognized speakers were hired, meals were served by the hotel catering staff instead of a high school cafeteria, and participants had the opportunity of attending a thoroughly professional education conference. New formats were developed for training sessions and the WPTA membership increased with the addition of 2 Boards of Cooperative Educational Services and a Child Development Program. All 48 of the public school districts are members of the WPTA.
As the WPTA moves into the challenge of the 21stcentury, the conference continues growing to meet the ever changing need of pupil transportation. The school bus driver competition went its own way as school bus drivers’ participation in the event dwindled in favor of more of the educational opportunities that were being offered at the workshop. Keynote speakers from all parts of the country were hired, eager to speak to this group of transportation professionals. A separate two day workshop was added for the school bus mechanics in the state to provide school bus mechanics with state of the art, hands on training in their field.
What does the future hold for this conference? As new educational programs are initiated in the state, pupil transportation will be there to meet these needs. And as these needs are identified, the WPTA and the WDE will continue to provide the best in educational opportunities for Wyoming’s school bus personnel.
The WPTA sponsors numerous training activities for transportation personnel in the State of Wyoming. Please check our calendar as it is updated with these events.
Any questions concerning WPTA events please email: firstname.lastname@example.org