Posted: Tuesday, December 9, 2014
The bus drivers who work at the Special Needs Bus Center, also known as Waddell Road, have nothing but high praise for their manager, Teena Mitchell. They credit her for running the bus center with professionalism and respect for its drivers and aides. She does that, she says, because her team of 120 drivers and 120 aides does what’s best for each student.
“We work with children who come to us with very unique needs,” she said. “Our job is to know the best way to serve each child.”
Teena has worked as Manager of the Special Needs Bus Center since 2009. Understanding the needs of our children and families is what she considers each day. “I think about the impact our actions will have on the family, and I give them assurance that we follow what is best for their child,” she said. “Each child has an IEP (Individual Education Program) that we follow. As a team, we decide the best way to provide the highest level of service to make their transportation to and from school as easy and pleasant as possible,” she said.
Mrs. Mitchell was recently recognized at the national level as the first person in the nation to receive the Certificate of Special Needs Transportation from the National Association of Pupil Transportation. The certification recognizes that she is highly qualified in many areas including specialized transportation skills, securing car seats, safety vests, wheel chairs, knowing the requirements, standard practices and sharing knowledge from state to state, understanding the legal aspects of transporting children with disabilities, and learning about the different state and federal laws that regulate special needs.
“Having this knowledge gives me a basis to either know what I need to know or the knowledge to know where and how I can find the answers,” she said.
One of the most critical areas for transporting special needs children is to provide the least restrictive environment for each child. “Working with the IEP team, you have to make sure that when you go to the more restrictive devices like a safety vest you have followed all the guidelines that bring you to that decision. The legal part is a very large part of special needs transportation,” she said.
Teena is extremely proud of her team. “My leadership is more of serving than leading. I want my employees to be the best that they can be, because the more I help them, the more they help me. If you build everybody up to be the best they can be, the whole team will shine. As a leader, if my team shines, I shine,” she said.