Overcoming Bullying, Encouraging Literacy and Driving Donations for the Needy – Thomas Built Buses Highlights Drivers Making a Difference

Winners of the Annual Children’s Choice Essay Contest are Announced

High Point, N.C. – Thomas Built Buses, a leading manufacturer of school buses for North America, has announced the winners of its fifth annual “Children’s Choice School Bus Driver of the Year” essay contest. The contest, which began in 2006, was created to recognize those drivers who are making a difference in the lives of their young passengers. Roughly 900 essays were submitted from students around North America who shared stories of overwhelming compassion, extraordinary measures that keep smiles firmly planted, and even affected lives in the face of danger.

This year’s driver of the year is Lester LeMasters, from Monongalia County Schools in Morgantown, W.V., whose simple yet thoughtful initiative to switch the order of two bus stops made a significant impact in the life of one of his passengers, a second grader named Chancellor.

In the winning essay, Chancellor describes how LeMasters impacted his life by intervening in an ongoing bullying issue that was conflicting Chancellor on a daily basis. LeMasters’ actions not only reinstated Chancellor’s sense of security, but also created a lasting bond between driver and student.

“The essay contest provides a platform for us to shine a light on some of the heartwarming stories that we don’t recognize in our industry often enough,” said Kelley Platt, president and CEO of Thomas Built Buses. “We have been fortunate to watch the number of essays grow over the last five years, which tells us that there are many incredible drivers out there.”

The essays were judged by representatives from Thomas Built Buses, School Bus Fleet magazine, School Transportation News magazine and the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT).

Mike Martin, president of NAPT, was touched by how Chancellor’s essay made him recall his own negative experiences with bullying as a child. “I got goose bumps when I read how this driver’s actions had such an effect on not only the safety of one student, but on the bruised confidence and sense of security that is associated with bullying,” said Martin. “This exact experience is what led to my career in pupil transportation.”

In fact, LeMasters and Chancellor will attend NAPT’s annual summit in Portland, Ore. for recognition in person by executives from Thomas Built Buses and its parent company, Daimler Trucks North America, during the conference and tradeshow. Keynote sessions on bullying and safety are scheduled, and Thomas Built Buses is including trip expenses for the winners as part of their contest prize package to assist in bringing this issue to the forefront of the industry.

Other prizes include a laptop computer and educational savings bond for Chancellor and a $1,000 Visa gift card for LeMasters, this year’s Driver of the Year. Both will receive a custom Thomas Built Buses jacket and a school bus lunchbox.

This year’s contest also recognizes two runners up and an honorable mention:

All finalists also receive a jacket and lunch box from Thomas Built for placing in the contest. The winning essays are available for viewing on Thomas Built’s website.

Thomas Built Buses (www.thomasbus.com) is the leading manufacturer of school buses in North America, with more than one-third of the market. Since the first Thomas Built bus rolled off the assembly line in 1936, the company has been committed to delivering the smartest and most innovative buses in North America.

Thomas Built Buses, Inc. is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, the largest heavy-duty truck manufacturer in North America and a leading manufacturer of class 4-8 vehicles. Daimler Trucks North America produces and markets commercial vehicles under the Freightliner, Western Star and Thomas Built Buses nameplates. Daimler Trucks North America is a Daimler company.

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