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School Transportation Icons Receive Industry's Highest Honor

If, as they say, the Baseball Hall of Fame is the preeminent link to sports immortality, then Albany, NY is now several giant steps closer to being the transportation version of Cooperstown.

That's because ten men of Ruthian stature have been selected to join the ranks of school transportation industry icons that have been enshrined in the NAPT Hall of Fame at the Association's upstate New York headquarters. Induction into the NAPT Hall of Fame represents the highest honor that NAPT can bestow on an individual. Honorees must meet the highest standards of personal and professional integrity, including distinguished service to both the industry and the Association.


Paul T. Stewart, C. Morris Adams, and Robert A. Larson were honored as the inaugural inductees in 1997. In 1998, Ray Westmoreland was inducted, and in 1999, Ed Bobit and Buster Bynum joined the illustrious group. Carlisle Beasley and Ed Donn were inducted in 2001; Ted Clayton and Dennis Essary were selected to the Hall in 2003. Don M. Carnahan, Paula M. Hanna and Carroll Pitts Jr. were selected to the Hall in 2006. Here are profiles of each of these industry icons:

PAUL T. STEWART, who retired in 1978 as the West Virginia State Director of Pupil Transportation, began his career as a bus operator in Monongalia County, West Virginia in 1941 and held a variety of high level posts during the course of his 40 year career. Among his many accomplishments, Stewart pioneered the use of diesel powered school buses in the early 1950's. He also created local, state and regional driver training programs and school bus inspection programs that formed the basis for many of the systems currently in use today. Stewart is a Past-President of NAPT, served as Chair of the Southeastern States School Transportation Conference and has participated in every National Conference on School Transportation since 1955.

C. MORRIS ADAMS begain his 40 year career when he started his own company - Adams Bus Lines - in 1950 in Starkville, Mississippi. He worked for 30 years at Thomas Built Buses in High Point, North Carolina where he held a variety of positions culminating his career as the company's Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Affairs. Adams was - and still is - an ardent advocate of safe, efficient and reliable school but transportation and is probably most often remembered for his energy and effort spent educating people about the pros and cons of seat belts on school buses.

ROBERT A. LARSON, more often referred to as "School Bus Bob," was one of the founding members of NAPT and served as the Association's first President. He was a charter member of the Minnesota Association for Pupil Transportation (MAPT) and worked as the Director of Transportation for the Robbinsdale (MN) School District #281 for 15 years. Among his many accomplishments, Larson developed one of the nation's first school district census programs (a forerunner to computerized routing). He was also a prolific writer, expounding on a number of topics, including a ground breaking article about evaluating your own school transportation services. Larson was awarded the "National School Bus Man of the Year" award by School Bus Fleet magazine in 1975.

RAY L. WESTMORELAND is known for his organizational and leadership achievements in pupil transportation. Westmoreland served thirty-three years with the Houston Independent School District and retired in the fall of 1990 as an Assistant Superintendent for Transportation. He is one of the founding members of the Texas Association for Pupil Transportation and the NAPT serving as President for both Associations. Among many honors bestowed on Ray during his career he was the recipient of the Texas Association for Pupil Transportation and NAPT distinguished service awards and inducted in the NAPT Hall of Fame in 1998.

Westmoreland contributed meritorious service as a member at large of the National Safety Council, Transportation Executive Committee, a representative at the Ninth & Tenth National Conference for Standards on School Buses, a resourceful liaison for the Southern Association for Accreditation of Secondary Schools, chairman of numerous school transportation evaluation studies and recognized as an expert witness relative to legal matters in pupil transportation.

EDWARD J. BOBIT is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Bobit Publishing, a company that publishes more than a dozen titles, including School Bus Fleet magazine. As a result of his work, Mr. Bobit has been involved with school transportation since 1965.

A native of Michigan, Ed enrolled at Michigan State University (MSU) in 1945. His college education was interrupted by two years in the U.S. Navy. After completing his tour of duty, he graduated from MSU and began working for Dow Chemical in Midland, Ill. His interests turned to publishing when he became a sales manager for McGraw Hill, where he worked for seven years before launching Bobit Publishing.

Ed has been a tremendous advocate of NAPT since its start. In 1977, he even agreed to serve as NAPT's Executive Director, guiding the association through "growing pains". Ed volunteered his time and used his experience and business acumen to help NAPT meet its leadership and financial challenges. Today, through School Bus Fleet, Ed continues to support the association and the industry by consistently providing practical and timely information about safe and efficient school bus transportation.

Mr. Bobit has been on the Safety Committee of the National Safety Council for several years and served as a consultant to the Safety Committee of the 3,000-member National Association of Fleet Administrators for more than 30 years. In addition, Ed founded the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association and served as its Executive Director for more than 20 years; today, he is the Association's Executive Director Emeritus.

REWEL ALONZO BYNUM, or "Buster" as his family, friends and professional associates throughout the pupil transportation industry know him, has been involved with school transportation since 1956. It's not surprising, then, that it seems like Buster has always been a forceful advocate for school bus safety.

Bynum began his career as the first full-time Supervisor of Pupil Transportation in Mecklenburg County, VA. Buster worked in Mecklenburg County for seven years before he joined the Virginia Department of Education on August 1, 1962 as Pupil Transportation Assistant Supervisor. Mr. Bynum was appointed Program Manager (state director) of Pupil Transportation in 1972 and served in that capacity until he retired nearly 20 years later in September 1991.

In the words of Virginia's current state director, Dr. Barbara Goodman, Bynum "reminds me of a Southern gentlemen - stately in his appearance, gracious in his manner and gentle in nature - until it comes to pupil transportation. Then, he becomes intense on issues he believes are important to pupil transportation and the safety of children." Buster advocated comprehensive driver training, improved railway grade crossing safety, and state of the art equipment specifications long before many of his peers. A classic example of his vision is exemplified in his work to prohibit the purchase of non-conforming vehicles in the late 1980's - more than a decade before the issue received widespread industry attention and support.

Although a variety of pupil transportation organizations have reaped the benefits of Buster's professional expertise, none has been dearer to him than the Southeastern States Pupil Transportation Conference (SESPTC). He has been SESPTC Treasurer since 1988 and, prior to that time, he served as President (1967 and 1987), Vice President (1966 and 1986), Secretary (1974) and Secretary/Treasurer (1985).

Except for several years when state travel was prohibited, Buster has also attended every NAPT conference. In fact, he was instrumental in securing funding and political support for the infant NAPT. After the Rural Education Division of the National Education Association (NEA) decided to forego assistance for the Association, Buster encouraged a variety of sponsors, including the State Directors Association, to join forces and move forward with a plan to strengthen the industry and its various constituencies. When Virginia hosted the NAPT and NASDPTS conferences in Norfolk, Buster was very involved on on-site and program planning as well as serving as a presenter during the NAPT program.

CARLISLE BEASLEY, the Hall's 7th inductee, has spent nearly 40 years actively working in pupil transportation. He has always been, and continues to be, ready willing and able to seek a better and safer way to transport students and improve the design and construction of school buses. He has always been, and continues to be, resolute - even uncompromising when necessary - when he's attempting to achieve lofty goals for the pupil transportation community.

Because of his "Student First" attitude and an amazing dedication to driver training and rider education, Beasley's Nashville Metro schools went over three DECADES - 33 years! -without a serious injury. That is an achievement of almost unbelievable scope and proportion.

Beasley recognized long ago that if safe student transportation was the ultimate goal, then the only way to achieve that goal was to work for and promote school bus safety at all levels - local, state, and national. Because of his strong belief in the community and family of pupil transportation, Beasley became a charter member of NAPT and one of its early Presidents. He was also a multi-term member of the NAPT Board of Directors.

In addition, to his service with NAPT, Beasley has also been an active supporter of the National Safety Council. He has served as Chair of the NSC School Transportation Executive Committee, Chair of the NSC Motor Transportation Executive Committee and member of the NSC Board of Directors. He also served as a member of the Mayor's Task Force for Pedestrian Safety in Metropolitan Nashville. Beasley's list of honors and awards is too long to recite. Among many awards and achievements, he has received the NAPT Distinguished Service Award and the Distinguished Service to Safety - the highest award available - from the National Safety Council. He has also been named School Bus Fleet Magazine's "Administrator of the Year" and was a recipient of the "Gold Wheel Award" from Pioneer News Magazine.

ED DONN has worked in transportation for thirty-four (34), split between tenures in Maryland and Georgia. During these years, he has been actively involved in NAPT, the Transportation Section of the Association of School Bus Officials - International, and both the Georgia and Maryland Association for Pupil Transportation. Suffice it to say that he has been a leader in all of these organizations; in fact, he holds the distinction of being the only person who has ever been elected to serve two terms as NAPT President.

One of Donn's lifelong passions has been promoting educational opportunities for those who work in school transportation. Ed was one of the first Directors of Pupil Transportation to be certified by the National Committee Motor Fleet Supervisor, Penn State University and he helped to develop and implement the NAPT Professional Certification Program, the industry's only national-level professional recognition program for school transportation personnel. He has also been an instructor at the New Mexico State School Bus Driver Workshop, Pupil Transportation Supervisor Course at Penn State University, Pupil Transportation Supervisor Course at Eastern Illinois University, and numerous training programs in the States of Maryland and Georgia.

In addition to his lifelong interest in professional growth and professional development, Ed has always been at the forefront of industry efforts to improve operations. He has served as a delegate and committee member for five (5) National Conferences on School Transportation and was co-Chair of the School Bus Specifications Section at the 11th and 12th NCST's in 1990 and 1995 respectively.

He has been recognized for his many accomplishments by, among others, School Bus Fleet magazine, which named him its "Educator of the Year" in 1989, and Pioneer News Magazine, which awarded him the "Golden Wheel" in 1990.

TED CLAYTON served in the US Navy during the Korean War and soon after became enmeshed in the school transportation and bus industry. He gave over 40 safety and product related presentations to state, provincial and local conferences up and down both coasts – “from Nova Scotia to Key West, FL, and from Arizona to British Columbia as well as many points in between” he says.

In the early 1970’s Clayton worked to develop vendor support for the fledgling NAPT Conference & Trade Show. He also served on a variety of committees to promote school bus safety with the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS), the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) and the Southeastern States Pupil Transportation Conference (SESPTC).

Clayton was also a two-time Chairman of the School Transportation Section of the National Safety Council. He was active in NSC for more than 20 years and received the organization’s prestigious Distinguished Service to Safety Award, which is the Safety Council’s highest honor bestowed on an individual in recognition of outstanding service to the field of safety. Clayton was also named an Honorary Lifetime member of NSC for his career-long dedication to safety.

DENNIS R. ESSARY was born in 1949 and served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. He returned to his hometown of Kansas City, MO to work as the Transportation Director of the North Kansas City Schools before moving to Gresham, OR in mid-1995 to work for Lee Larson’s School Bus Services, Inc as Vice President of School Bus Operations. He began working for the Beaverton (OR) Public Schools in 1997 and became the district’s Director of Transportation Services in the spring of 2002.
Dennis was President of both the Missouri Association for Pupil Transportation and the Oregon Association for Pupil Transportation. He chaired the Missouri delegation to the 1990 National Conference on School Transportation and attended the 1995 and year 2000 conferences as a delegate from Oregon.

Dennis was an NAPT member for more than 20 years. During that time, he selflessly supported the organization and its goals. He was the 10th person to become a NAPT Certified Director of Pupil Transportation. He served as Chair of numerous NAPT committees, including the Human Resources, Research and Development Committee, the Membership Committee, and the Professional Growth Committee. He served two terms on the Board of Directors. He was voted president-elect at the 1994 conference in Albuquerque, NM and served as NAPT President in 1995-96.

Dennis was also tapped to work on special projects big and small. He chaired the ad hoc Executive Director search committee, served on the ad hoc committee to review and revise the NAPT By-laws, and led the ad hoc committee to create the Student Transportation Quality Award.

In short, Dennis Essary distinguished himself as one of the school transportation industry’s brightest lights. As a result, he received the NAPT Distinguished Service Award in 1998.

Dennis died in a motorcycle accident on Friday, June 27, 2003 and was inducted into the NAPT Hall of Fame posthumously on November 9, 2003.

DON M. CARNAHAN started his career as a teacher for the Renton (WA) School District before he switched jobs in 1974 and went to work for the state department of Education, where he worked as the State Director of Pupil Transportation for the next 22 years, before retiring in 1996. During his time with the WA DOE, Don was chair of the 11th National Congress of School Transportation (1990) and served as the first two-year President of NASDPTS (1992 to 1994). Don was NAPT President-elect in 1997 and served as NAPT President in 1998-99. His leadership was instrumental in encouraging the NAPT Board to develop a strategic plan that included initiatives in communications, education, government relations and professional growth, all of which remain focal points for the organization today. He also laid the groundwork for NAPT to purchase its current headquarters and expand staff immediately after his term ended. After his term as NAPT President, Don joined the Board of the Pupil Transportation Safety Institute, and served as that organization's President from 2001 to 2003. He also helped create the NAPT Foundation, Inc. and served on its original Board of Directors, beginning in 2000. Don was inducted into the NAPT Hall of Fame on November 5, 2006.

PAULA M. HANNA worked for NAPT from 1988 to 1995, serving as the association's Executive Secretary. In addition to her keen sense of humor and hearty laugh, Paula was known for her attention to detail - a critical factor in the association's success in its early years - and was the lynchpin of NAPT's growth during her tenure. Prior to working for NAPT, Paula was actively involved in NAPT as a member. She was honored with the NAPT Distinguished Service Award in 1984. Paula was 62 when she died on Wednesday, November 16, 2005 after a courageous battle with cancer. She was inducted into the NAPT Hall of Fame posthumanously on November 5, 2006.


CARROLL PITTS, JR. is a former social studies teacher who became the director of transportation for the Richland County School District in Columbia, SC in 1976, joined the SCAPT Board in 1978 and was the organization's President by 1980. He moved to Georgia in 1982, joined the GAPT Executive Board in 1983 and became GAPT President in 1987.

Carroll was elected to the NAPT Board in 1984 and served as a Regional Director until he was elected NAPT President in 1989. After he took a short time off to help his school district stabalize the budget, staffing, purchasing and personnel issues of a transportation operation that would turn into a $38 million operation with 1,128 employees and 1,184 buses, Carroll was elected to yet another term on the NAPT Board from 1993 to 1996.

Carroll served on or Chaired 8 different committees for NAPT. He was a delegate at the National Congress of School Transportation in 1995, 2000 and 2005, Chaired the NCST School Bus Chassis Writing Committee in 1995 and 2000 and served as the NAPT representative on the NCST Steering Committee in 2000 and 2005.

Carroll was inducted into the NAPT Hall of Fame on November 5, 2006.

RICHARD E. FISCHER has been a tireless supporter and advocate for pupil transportation for 51 years. Hired as a bus driver for the Orange Unified School District, Orange, California in 1956, Mr. Fischer quickly advanced to Transportation Director in little more than two years’ time. He remained a Transportation Director for 11 years. In 1963, Mr. Fischer was instrumental in founding National School Bus Safety Week and received a Presidential commendation for his effort from President Nixon in 1970. That same year he was hired as Corporate Vice President for Safety, Training and Personnel Development by ARA School Bus Transportation Services. During his ARA tenure, he commanded 5,500 buses in 11 states with an operating budget of $20 million. He was responsible for OSHA compliance at 64 locations, developed a self-insurance workers compensation program and managed vehicle collision incidents and litigation.

Mr. Fischer founded Trans-Consult in 1977. As President and owner of this international school bus transportation consulting firm, Mr. Fischer is engaged in detailed analyses of school transportation operations, training bus drivers and hosting driver-trainer workshops. Mr. Fisher has embraced electronic media and in 1996 started the first daily School Bus Safety e-Newsletter that focuses on the importance of safety and the value of networking with industry professionals. He also developed a six-video training series concentrated on pupil safety and driver training. He is a member of the National Safety Council (NSC) and the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT), a member of the Editorial Board of School Transportation News and was recognized by School Bus Fleet in 2002 as one of 25 leaders in the pupil transportation field. He received the Distinguished Service Award in 2004 from NAPT for his service to pupil transportation and earned the NSC Distinguished Service to Safety Award in 1996.

THOMAS R. CELLITTI, is one of the few men that has have earned the level of respect that has been bestowed upon him by the pupil transportation industry. Making a significant impact on the industry, as well as NAPT, is part of the criteria for Hall of Fame inductees and no one else, as they say, “does it better.” Cellitti is currently Senior Vice President of Integrated Quality and Reliability at IC Bus and was commended for his industry leadership and advocacy during his tenure as Vice President and General Manager for IC, formerly known as Navistar.

Cellitti leaves a considerable legacy. He was an original member of the Board of Directors of the NAPT Foundation, and participated in the first national workshops dedicated to new emission standards. He was a founding member and Chairman of the NASDPTS Supplier Council. He contributed to the School Bus Manufacturers Technical Council, which provides technical advice to the industry. Through Cellitti’s encouragement, the IC Corporation became a supporter of the School Bus Manufacturer’s Institute and Co-sponsor of the National Conference on School Transportation. Under Cellitti’s leadership at IC, significant time, effort and resources were contributed to local, regional and national associations, through their dealer network.

“Tom Cellitti is a school bus industry icon,” said NAPT Executive Director Michael Martin. “He is among the vanguard whenever people think and talk about leadership in school transportation.” He also provided critical support at a vulnerable time in the industry’s history. Under his tutelage and at his urging, he was able to provide a conducive environment for the Annual Conference and Trade Show that now celebrates its 35th anniversary and helps to foster industry professionals to hone their skills and achieve their goals. Cellitti led the charge to better communicate to parents and policymakers about the remarkable safety record of the American school bus and helped mobilize school bus organizations to focus on the reduction of student fatalities. His vision has been continued by his successors who ultimately helped shaped the American School Bus Council.

Bill Paul began reporting on the North American school transportation industry in 1982 as the publisher and editor of School Bus Fleet magazine. During his time at School Bus Fleet, Bill conceived, and with the assistance of several key players, organized and chaired the Suppliers Council of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation. In 1991 he left School Bus Fleet to start his own magazine, School Transportation News. In 1992, he collaborated with numerous state directors of pupil transportation to revive the Western States Pupil Transportation Conference, which he eventually converted into the STN EXPO. His company, now called STN Media, grew steadily under his guidance and direction to become an industry powerhouse. 

Induction into the NAPT Hall of Fame represents the highest honor that NAPT can bestow on an individual. Honorees must meet the highest standards of personal and professional integrity, including distinguished service to both the industry and the Association. For additional information about the NAPT Hall of Fame, feel free to contact Mike Roscoe, Chair of the NAPT Hall of Fame Committee at (502) 564-4718 or NAPT headquarters at
(800) 989-NAPT.

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Induction into the NAPT Hall of Fame is the highest honor NAPT can bestow. Potential members of the Hall of Fame will therefore be evaluated, at a minimum, by the following criteria:

Personal Contributions
Has the nominee made an extraordinary commitment of time, energy or money to support NAPT and/or the school transportation industry?

Have his or her achievements in communication, leadership, education, advocacy, or research distinguished the nominee from his or her contemporaries?

Has the nominee's influence been of major significance to NAPT and/or the pupil transportation industry even though it may have been confined largely to a single field of specialization (e.g., engineering, sales, training, etc.)?

Is it probable that the nominee's accomplishments will continue to be valued by pupil transportation leaders of the future? How likely it is that future generations of American school transportation professionals will consider the nominees contributions noteworthy?

    Guidelines, Criteria, and Information