Thomas Built Buses names essay contest winners

Posted on October 5, 2009

HIGH POINT, N.C. — More than 1,000 entries were received for the fourth annual Thomas Built Buses Children’s Choice School Bus Driver of the Year national essay contest.

This year’s winning essay was submitted by 8-year-old Luke Stehr of Trussville, Ala., who nominated Renea Cataldo, a bus driver for Trussville City Schools.

"What really makes her special is her inside kindness," Stehr wrote in his essay. "Mrs. Renea, hands down, should be bus driver of the year."

Cataldo has been driving a school bus for nearly 16 years. She started by driving high school students and now transports elementary school students. She remembers their birthdays, celebrates the last week of school and brings holiday treats for her passengers.

"These kids make my day. They definitely make me feel special," Cataldo said upon learning that she was this year’s winner.

As the 2009 grand prize winner, Cataldo will receive a $1,000 Visa gift card. Stehr will receive a $1,000 education savings bond and a laptop computer, and both will receive Thomas Built Buses jackets and Saf-T-Liner C2 school bus lunch boxes.

Runners-up were Chase, who nominated driver Sam McGroom from Hillsborough, N.C., and Suzanne, who nominated driver Sheree Cook of Trussville, Ala. Honorable mentions went to Aldo, who nominated Joe Cimmarrusti of Saint Charles, Ill., and driver Walter Ritchea of Wheeling, W.Va., who was nominated by more than two dozen students.

These finalists and the drivers they nominated will receive Thomas Built jackets and Saf-T-Liner C2 school bus lunch boxes.

Essays were judged on content and originality by representatives of the National Association for Pupil Transportation, SCHOOL BUS FLEET magazine and Thomas Built Buses. Thomas Built verified driver qualifications with each district.

"The contest is a way for us to thank the school bus drivers who take such good care of their precious cargo, and to recognize the important role they play in students' lives," Thomas Built Buses President and CEO John O'Leary said.

For more information on the contest as well as photos and scans of this year’s winning essays and illustrations, visit


Related Topics: Thomas Built Buses

Comments ( 0 )
More Stories

Mother Gets Probation for Assaulting School Bus Driver

Kiesha Shannon of Ohio pleads guilty to attacking her daughter’s bus driver and is sentenced to three years of probation. The judge says he had limited sentencing options, which is why he didn’t give her jail time.


Portable Child Restraint

HSM Transportation Solutions’ C.E. White Portable Child Restraint for school buses, a five-point restraint system, is designed to accommodate children weighing 20 to 90 pounds and up to 57 inches in height.


2-Camera System

The DS2 is a two-camera vehicle event recording system that combines high-definition video recording, fleet telematics, and vehicle operating data on one screen for better incident review and driver coaching.

As Maryland’s new state director of pupil transportation, Gabriel Rose (seen here) replaces Leon Langley, who stepped down from the position in July.

New State Director Named in Maryland

Gabriel Rose, who previously served as a security specialist for Talbot County (Md.) Public Schools, replaces Leon Langley as state director.

According to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drivers who miss one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep nearly double their risk for a crash.

Don't Skimp on Safety Sleep

According to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drivers who miss one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep nearly double their risk for a crash.

Be the First to Know

Get the latest news and most popular articles from SBF delivered straight to your inbox. Stay on top of the school bus industry and don't miss a thing!