Two Trussville bus drivers win in national contest

TRUSSVILLE, AL (WBRC) - Two Alabama bus drivers, both of them in the Trussville school district win top honors in a national contest.

Renea Cataldo has been driving busses for 15 years and she's driven just about every grade.  Greetings and kind words are common place on her bus.  And it's something 3rd grader Luke Stehr has noticed the last three years he's ridden.  "If it's on a holiday, she gives us candy. And if it's our birthday, she gives us a balloon," Stehr said.  The Paine Primary student was so impressed he decided to enter her into the Thomas Built "Bus Driver of the Year" contest.  In his essay, he described her "inside kindness" and described what exactly that meant.  "She's not yelling to be quiet.  She says, can y'all please be a little quiet."

Out t of 11-hundred entries, Stehr's essay won.  He was excited.  But Renea Cataldo was shocked to hear the news.  "In the course of the conversation she said, you're the winner and I kept saying, 'I'm the winner?' I had to ask her 6 times." Cataldo says.  Just one ride on her bus and it is obvious she goes all out for her 50-plus students.  "I want to treat these kids like someone would treat my child and I keep that in mind.  Their birthdays are special to them and just a balloon.  It's amazing how they react to that"

But if one winner was not enough, Sheree Cook was named runner up in the contest.  She also drives for Trussville Schools.  "It's very ironic but it tells you what's going on...that we've got a great system"

As for Renea Cataldo, she gets a 1-thousand dollar gift card as a result of winning.  Luke Stehr gets a one thousand dollar education savings bond and a lap top computer.  When asked what he's learned from all this, his reply is simple.  "She's probably the nicest bus driver in the country."