CLEARWATER, Fla. — Kim Johnston has been recognized as Pinellas County's School Bus Driver of the Year. 

But it is more than strong driving skills that make Johnston stand out. 

Johnston, who guides students daily on Bus 11501 to the Paul B. Stephens School in Clearwater, has been driving students since 2014. 

Her philosophy about her work is all about love. 

"I love kids," Johnston said. "And to be a school bus driver. That's like the #1 quality that you need to have is to be able to love kids no matter what. No matter disability, no matter age, no matter anything." 

Johnston, who also drives to two other schools as part of her duties, received flowers and bubbles and a celebratory crown with the announcement of her being driver of the year. 

"When they get on the bus, they're part of my family," she said. "My kids. And I'm going to protect them like they're my kids." 

Her love and compassion is on display daily but she said that doesn't make her a hero. 

"I don't know that I would call myself a hero," she said. "I think it's compassion and I do know that I've been blessed with compassion and I love to share that with everybody I meet."