"My bus driver saved my life," Chancellor wrote.
In the fifth annual Children's Choice essay contest, the second-grader described how his school bus driver came up with a plan to keep him from being bullied.
Chancellor's essay earned his driver, Lester LeMasters of Monongalia County Schools in Morgantown, W.Va., the title of Driver of the Year in the Thomas Built Buses contest.
Chancellor was being bullied by another student on a regular basis after they got off the bus. LeMasters came up with a way to solve the problem by adjusting bus stops.
"When he drove the bus to the end of the street to turn around, he would let me off there and then pull on down to the regular stop and let off the kid," Chancellor wrote. "The whole problem was solved, and I think he is heroic."
Roughly 900 essays were submitted from students around North America who told of their school bus drivers' dedication to the job.
“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.
The essays were judged by representatives from Thomas Built, SCHOOL BUS FLEET, School Transportation News and the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT).
NAPT Executive Director Mike Martin said that he 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,” Martin said. “This exact experience is what led to my career in pupil transportation.”
LeMasters and Chancellor will attend this fall's NAPT Summit in Portland, Ore., to be recognized during the conference and trade show. Thomas Built is including trip expenses for the winners as part of their contest prize package. Other prizes include a laptop computer and educational savings bond for Chancellor and a $1,000 Visa gift card for LeMasters.
Two runners-up and an honorable mention were named:
• Leslie Andrews, nominated by Samantha from Hampstead, N.C.
• Pat Ferguson, nominated by Sarah from Crown Point, Ind.
• Timothy Driggers, nominated by Shivani from Tampa, Fla.
All finalists receive a Thomas Built jacket and a school bus lunch box.
The top essays are available for viewing here.