Truckers Help Teachers in the Classroom

July 5, 2012

Many times people, especially children, do not realize the significance of the trucking industry in their everyday lives. Recently information regarding truckers and trucking was brought into the Del Prado Elementary School in South Florida. It began with an invitation from Frank Silio, a driver/trainer, for truckers Jill and David Studney to introduce trucking to the elementary classes. Delighted by the experience, the couple went into full swing to develop a program to present their experiences to the students.

They were working under a program known as "The Trucker Buddy Program". This program was organized by Gary King, a truck driver, in November of 1991. At this time he contacted a grade school and requested permission to write "pen-pal" letters to a class of students. He began writing short letters and postcards to the class each week. The teacher adapted this into her teaching program and it was highly successful. Shortly thereafter, other drivers also wanted to become pen-pals.

On July 1, 1993, Trucker Buddy became incorporated. Beginning with around 1,000 driver-teacher matches there are now over 2,500 with approximately 60,000 students participating. Drivers as well as the organization's directors must undergo screening and a background check prior to being allowed to participate in the program.

Anyone who is involved with teaching elementary school classes understands how, when children become enthusiastic about something, they really want to learn. In their program for the 2011-2012 school year, Jill and David wrote letters and send postcards from 42 of the 50 states they visited. In their classroom, the students kept track of the couple's travels by placing flags on a map. This encouraged the children to learn to write letters, name the capital of each state, plus major highways, products, climates, and bordering states. They also learned facts that make each state different.

One elementary teacher, Lenae Herman, stated, "The children wanted to learn to write letters from the inception of the program, and became master writers due to having a purpose for their writing. The most popular class activity is reading the Trucker Buddy album." On April 9, 2012 the Studney's, with their dog Riggs, drove their big rig to the school. Three hundred students of kindergarten, first and second grades met the drivers and were allowed to climb into the cab, examine the living quarters, and look at the cargo area .

Some of the testimonials received reflect the influence that this program has on educating children regarding the trucking industry:

Elyse: "This letter is to thank you for an absolutely wonderful experience. Trucker Don is the best pen pal we could have asked for. Children learned map skills, directions, can identify some of the states, and letter writing skills."

Becca: "My students were able to really familiarize themselves with the states because of all the postcards we received. They became proficient with letter writing and it brought meaning to their lessons. Thank you for sending such an exceptional Trucker Buddy."

Truckers, teachers, or schools who are interested in being involved in this program by participation or donations, can obtain more information by contacting http://www.truckerbuddy.org/newsletters.htm.

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