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.