MOBILE, Ala. — School bus driver Charles Poland was honored posthumously for his heroism during the Southeastern States Pupil Transportation Conference, which was held here last week.
As SBF has reported, Poland was shot and killed earlier this year in a standoff with a gunman.
During the Southeastern States conference, the American School Bus Council (ASBC) recognized Poland by naming him a School Bus Champion.
ASBC officials said Poland was widely recognized as the fabric of his community in Dale County, Ala. He was remembered as a grandfather, a veteran, a hard-working member of the community and a God-fearing man. At 66 years old, he had only been a full-time bus driver for four years, but he took immense pride in his responsibility to shepherd his kids to and from school every day.
Ken Hedgecock of Thomas Built Buses and ASBC presented the ASBC School Bus Champion Award to Dale County Schools Superintendent Donny Bynum, who accepted the honor on behalf of Poland’s family.
Hedgecock said that Poland “displayed bravery, honor and conviction that most of us can’t even imagine. He faced evil and gave his life to save the lives of more than 20 kids who could have become victims themselves.”
Bynum added, “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Mr. Poland and what he did. He is the definition of a hero.”
(To read SBF Executive Editor Thomas McMahon’s Q&A with Bynum about Poland and Dale County Schools’ continuing recovery from the incident, click here.)
Poland is the third recipient of the School Bus Champion Award, which recognizes individuals or organizations that display exemplary leadership in at least one of the following categories: safety, access to education, environmental benefits/ stewardship and community impact.
The EPA and the state of Utah received the first two awards, in recognition of their successes in greening school bus fleets.