Drivers in Trucker Buddy program help students learn
May 13, 2019
•Land Line Staff
Trucker Buddy International is looking for commercial motor vehicle drivers willing to help mentor youngsters as a pen pal.
Trucker Buddy International is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization started in 1992. It is dedicated to helping educate and mentor schoolchildren via a pen pal relationship between professional truck drivers. The children are in kindergarten through eighth grade. Trucker Buddy matches classes of students with professional truck drivers. Every week drivers share news about their travels with their class.
All participants in the Trucker Buddy program are volunteers. Driver participants must hold a valid commercial driver’s license. They also must undergo a criminal background check before joining the program.
Once a driver is admitted to the program and matched with a class, the teacher manages all aspects of the students’ involvement in the Trucker Buddy program, including all correspondence between a driver and students.
Drivers are asked to communicate to the class in postcards, emails, letters, pictures, social media, or by using the Trucker Buddy iPhone and Android apps. The Trucker Buddy iPhone and Android apps are free and allow a driver to send the teacher pictures with the location on a map. The class can also follow their driver around the country, if the driver and his company allow it.
Teachers use these communications to generate lesson plans about geography, math, science, social studies and more. The students will write letters back to the driver about what they learned.
Frequent and consistent correspondence with an assigned class is essential to the program. Drivers are asked to write to their class as often as possible for the entire school year, typically September through May.
Drivers write about what they are hauling, where they drive, and aspects of life on the road. Once drivers find out what the students are studying and when, they can send correspondence that supports the teacher’s lesson plans.
As an example, if the class assigned to a driver is learning about the Rocky Mountains, and the driver had a run through Colorado, the driver might pick up and send a tourist brochure of the Rockies or a pamphlet from the National Park Service.
Once or twice a year the driver may take their truck to school and meet the teacher and class.
Drivers and teachers will keep their class/driver assignment as long as they remain in the program and do not request a change. Teachers and drivers, however, must file an annual renewal form to remain in the Trucker Buddy program.
The program was originally started by truck driver and OOIDA member Gary King after he contacted a grade school in Williams Bay, Wis., and asked the principal permission to write to a class of students as pen pals.
The program has grown to about 2,000 truck drivers. Many of the Trucker Buddy officers, board members, advisors and truck drivers involved are OOIDA members. Among the OOIDA members involved are Linda Chaffee, president of Trucker Buddy, and Dick Pingel, a board member for OOIDA and also Trucker Buddy.
Here’s a recent article from the Akron Beacon Journal/Ohio.com about Akron second-graders meet their Trucker Buddy in person after a year of correspondence.