During the NAPT awards banquet, Lydia Poland Hancock accepted the Heroism Award on behalf of her father, Alabama school bus driver Charles Poland, who was fatally shot in the line of duty in January. Also pictured is Hancock's husband.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Outstanding pupil transportation professionals were in the spotlight here on Sunday night at the annual National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) awards banquet.
The event included a moving tribute to Charles “Chuck” Poland Jr., the Alabama school bus driver who was slain in the line of duty in January.
Poland, a driver for Dale County Schools, was fatally shot while protecting his passengers from an armed intruder, who then took a 5-year-old boy hostage for nearly a week.
At the NAPT banquet, Poland’s daughter Lydia Poland Hancock accepted the Heroism Award on his behalf.
Honorees at the awards ceremony included:
• Heroism Award (sponsored by Blue Bird Corp.) — Charles Poland Jr. (posthumous), Dale County Schools, Ozark, Ala.
• NAPT Distinguished Service Award — Alexandra Robinson, New York City Department of Education’s Office of Pupil Transportation and outgoing NAPT president
• Continuing Education Award (sponsored by Thomas Built Buses) — Donelda Williams, Independence (Mo.) School District
• Special Needs Transportation Award (sponsored by Sure-Lok) — Dr. Linda Bluth, Maryland State Department of Education and past NAPT president
• School Bus Driver Training & Safety Award (sponsored by IC Bus) — Allen (Texas) Independent School District
• SCHOOL BUS FLEET’s Administrator of the Year — Alfred Karam, Bethlehem Central School District, Delmar, N.Y. (see story here)
• America’s Best School Bus Technician: Patrick Maloney, Douglas County School District, Castle Rock, Colo.
• America’s Best School Bus Inspector: Casey Middleton, Tulsa (Okla.) Public Schools
• STN Leadership Award: John Benish Jr., Cook-Illinois Corp., Oak Forest, Ill.