|Our teacher Stéphanie Derrien-Guivarch
The above was my exact thoughts many years ago as I thought about taking the time out of my busy day to look for a postcard, or write to a group of kids I had no connection with. I am a busy person and I have work to take care of and I do not need to become a pen pal. No way was I going to do something so silly and those were my famous last words.
Friends become Trucker Buddies and they then talk about their class and the fun they have working with them. Looking for a postcard, looking for a cool picture, and sending them information about the United States, their business, and I could hear the pride in their voice when they received something back from their class. In time, I started asking questions about what they were doing and how much time was spent on this project, and I started wondering if we could fit into the program.
My first step was to do a little research about Trucker Buddy International http://www.truckerbuddy.org and learned that the program started in 1992 and is a nonprofit. A background check is performed on every driver and all correspondence goes through the teacher. Working directly with the teacher a mutual goal can be reached on correspondence and expectations. The most exciting project is when the truck can be taken to the school so that the students can learn about safety around the truck and see where the driver spends a lot of their time. This is the perfect opportunity for students to learn about safety around trucks and also to see the driver of a big truck as a person and not someone that only irritates their mom and dad.
We finally took the plunge and signed up to be a Trucker Buddy and our first class was in Saint Louis. I corresponded with the teacher and we started sending postcards and pictures to the class. Then the big day arrived and we took the truck to the school and we were not prepared for the response. Two of the students came to the office to pick us up and the look of awe on their face was something. We spent the rest of the day being asked a million questions and all of them wanting to be next to us. What an amazing experience. When we walked into the class the first thing we noticed was one of the bulletin boards was nothing but “Bob & Linda” with postcards we had sent, emails, and pictures. We were in these students eyes equivalent to rock stars.
Over time our teacher in Saint Louis was overwhelmed with requirements for her students to pass state tests and we were looking for another teacher and that is when we found Stephanie. Stephanie found out about the program while she was looking for ways to motivate her students to learn English. Stephanie is an English teacher teaching in a school in France. She needed a driver who could correspond via email and would work with her students who were learning not only English but about the United States. Finally, we had found our perfect match.
While we cannot take our truck to the school we can do other things that benefit the students and at the same time we have a lot of fun doing. I took pictures of a TA Truck Stop Restaurant and the server, then Travel Centers of America (TA) gave me a few menus to send to France for the students to use. We also send over during the year how many miles we drive a month, fuel we use, and the cost of fuel for the students to work on their math skills. We also try to send over a post card each month and then the students do a book report on the post card. We also send over free maps we get at the Rest Areas and little things we pick up along the way. The effort that we put into this program is tailored to what the teacher and the students can use. Our classes are older as we have 5th, 6th, and 7th grade students and other drivers have much younger students and they do a lot with mascots that is fun.
If you are interested in becoming a Trucker Buddy, please visit the web site and if you know of a teacher that might be interested please send them to the website. It is a win win situation and we have a lot of fun seeing pictures of what our students are doing. Trucker Buddy needs support from drivers, teachers, and sponsors. If you are attending the Mid America Trucking Show in March stop by their booth and ask questions of the drivers who will be there. Get involved and change a students life by sharing your story or helping the organization with a donation.
Fellow Pro Henry Albert talks about his Trucker Buddy Class and his November Package from his class.
Here is a little more about our class in France and we never would have visited France if it was not for our teacher and our classes.