Pender County Schools bus driver Leslie Andrews was the top pick in the Thomas Built Buses’ 2013 Children’s Choice School Bus Driver of the Year essay contest. Meanwhile, two students were tied as the grand-prize winners of the contest.
Samantha Mazza, a 10-year-old fifth-grade student at South Topsail Elementary School, and John Watson, an 8-year-old second-grade student from the same school, were the grand-prize winners. In her essay, Mazza said Andrews “is involved in her community, loves helping people of all ages and wouldn’t hurt a fly.” Watson wrote: “She shows us how to love others. She knows us how to do things right and help other kids.”
These students will receive a laptop computer, a $500 Visa gift card and Thomas Built Buses jackets. Meanwhile, Andrews, who also works in the school cafeteria, will receive a $1,000 Visa gift card, a laptop computer and a Thomas Built Buses jacket.
Essay runners-up in the contest were Breck Bryan, 12, who attended Topsail Middle School at the time of entry, and George Zach, 9, of Lovettsville (Va.) Elementary. Both students will receive Thomas Built Buses jackets.
The Children’s Choice School Bus Driver of the Year contest, in its eighth year, was initiated as part of Thomas Built Buses’ 90th anniversary celebration in 2005. Since then, thousands of school bus-riding children have nominated their favorite bus drivers in 90-word essays that often include original artwork and photos of themselves with their drivers. About 300 essays were judged during this year’s contest.
“We are committed to building safe, dependable buses, and we recognize, too, the important role of drivers in transporting children safely to and from school,” said Kelley Platt, Thomas Built president and CEO. “This contest lets us say thank you to the school bus drivers who take such good care of their cherished cargo, and to recognize their significant role in students’ lives.”
The essays were judged for content and originality by Mario DiFoggio, Manager of the Center for Education and Marketing at Thomas Built Buses; Sylvia Arroyo, Managing Editor of School Transportation News, Thomas McMahon, executive editor of School Bus Fleet magazine; Bill Tousley, NAPT Executive Team; Leon Langley, NSDPTS President-Elect; and Donnie Fowler, NSTA Immediate Past-President.