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Watkin’s son Noah, left, has the rare genetic condition SATB-2 Associated Syndrome, which has symptoms similar to autism. Watkins said his son has taught the family about the simple joys in life. For instance, Noah’s best friend is his stuffed Curious George doll, pictured in the stroller.


understand students by summoning per- sonal experience with a particular disability that either they, a family member or a friend has. Watkins shared that this is a good strategy for life in


general. “It’s often hard to learn something


in one particular context and then remember to apply it elsewhere,” Watkins said. “But when we do that, we find that it really works.”


Staying Connected Throughout Virtual Learning It’s little surprise that keeping an open line of commu-


nication is a priority for Watkins, as his staff continues to navigate virtual learning. Communication between 2,200 total employees in the department was already


challenging prior to COVID-19, however it’s become an even greater effort now. At this report, Watkins said his district will likely not return all students to in-person classes via a hybrid instruction model until the second semester, which starts in February. At this report, only 15 special-needs students were receiving bus rides to class. In the meantime, his staff is helping every other


district department in need. Watkins said if there is a resource his department can provide, he offers it. That can be taking calls in different language on the district helpdesk, distributing meals, and even helping on week- ends with social distancing and personal protective gear distribution at standardized test administration sites. He said not only does helping make his staff feel good, but he said it’s also making a positive impact on the trans- portation departments credibility. “[Employees ask] why are we doing all this,” Watkins


said. “And I say, ‘Look, it’s the right thing to do. It makes you feel good, so try it.’ And the other thing it does is


CONGRATULATIONS on your success in becoming the STN 2020 Transportation Director of the Year. The K.Neal Truck and Bus Center family is proud of the many accomplishments you continue to achieve. Send- ing warm wishes to your family and prayers for health, wealth and continued success – you earned it!


TODD,


Todd Watkins on being the 2020


Transportation Director of the Year. From your friends at


knealtbc.com 48 School Transportation News • NOVEMBER 2020


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