North America's Top School Bus Driver is Behind the Wheel in Lake Orion
'I think after this long she would be a crabby bus driver but she loves her job and loves us kids,' a student wrote about Charlotte Anker.
Based on a letter from one of her young passengers, a 15-year bus driver for Lake Orion Community Schools has been named Children’s Choice North American School Bus Driver of the Year.
Charlotte Anker, 10, a fourth-grader at Carpenter Elementary School, wrote a touching letter describing all the ways Dawn Lemaster makes riding the bus fun, safe and interesting. Lemaster was Charlotte’s bus driver last year.
Charlotte said she had a great bus driver before, “but not as fun as Mrs. Dawn…. She asks us trivia questions because her grandkids watch the Disney Channel. She talks about her grandkids a lot. She’ll ask us for advice.”
The awards have been given out annually since 2006 by Thomas Built Buses, a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America. Children are invited to submit nominations through a national essay contest as a way to recognize these unsung heroes and the ways they make a difference in the lives of children.
“A friend recommended I try bus driving more than 15 years ago, and I'm so glad I took her advice,” Lemaster said. “Every day since has been a different adventure. I'm so honored to receive this award as it means my kids really care about me and that I'm making a difference.”
Lemaster received a $1,000 gift card; Charlotte received a laptop and printer. They each received jackets with the Thomas Built name; Lemaster’s identifies her as bus driver of the year.
Charlotte’s mother, Mary Beth Anker, said some 800 essays were submitted to the contest and Lemaster is the first Michigan winner.
In her essay, Charlotte noted that Lemaster created a library so students could read on the bus. She also runs a program called Buster the Bus to teach students about bus safety. And she plays a game called Bus Cab, based on a TV show called Cash Cab.
Once, when Lemaster noticed that Charlotte’s mother wasn’t waiting for her at the bus stop, Lemaster doubled back at the end of her route and caught up with her mother to let her know Charlotte had already been dropped off.
“I know that I am important to Mrs. Dawn,” Charlotte wrote in her nomination.
“I love Mrs. Dawn. All the kids on the bus are important to her and she loves and cares about them all. Being on her bus is the perfect way to end a school day.”