PELHAM, Ala. — School bus drivers across Alabama — including one recently killed in the line of duty — were honored during a Love the Bus celebration here earlier this month.
During the Feb. 14 event at school bus dealership Transportation South, state pupil transportation director Joe Lightsey spoke about the high quality of Alabama’s bus drivers and their exemplary safety record, as well as the recent tragedy in Midland City, Ala.
“My thoughts today are not only with you,” Lightsey told the crowd. “They are also with a driver who paid the ultimate price to protect the students on his bus.”
After Lightsey spoke, there was a moment of silence to honor Charles Poland, the Dale County school bus driver who was fatally shot while protecting his passengers from an armed intruder on Jan. 29.
The event at Transportation South also honored Alabama’s top school bus drivers, as voted by the students, parents and teachers they serve. Harry Leach of Trussville City Schools was announced as Alabama's Love the Bus driver of the year for 2013.
In all, about 40 school bus drivers were honored as they enjoyed a barbecue lunch.
“There are thousands of great drivers, but we also have many drivers that have a real heart for their jobs,” said Bucky Law, president of Transportation South. “They realize that in a lot of cases when a student gets on the bus, their face might be the first smiling face they see all day long, and in the afternoon when they drop that student off, it might be the last. All of these drivers are like that, or they wouldn’t be here today. We are so proud to honor Mr. Leach with this great honor.”
Other recent coverage of Love the Bus events:
• Photo gallery: Love the Bus 2013
• LaHood celebrates ‘Love the Bus’ in Virginia