Truckers Make Learning Fun

If doesn’t matter whether or not you’re a teacher, each person has the opportunity to teach.  Randy Garrett, Archwood Protection, and Jeff and Val Fillpot, Fry-Wagner Moving and Storage  have spent the last two years teaching elementary children geography, reading, math and writing.

Garrett participates in Trucking Buddy International program.  Trucker Buddy International is a nonprofit organization that began in 1992, and is dedicated to helping educate and mentor schoolchildren via a pen pal relationship between professional truck drivers and children in grades K-8. Trucker Buddy matches classes of students with professional truck drivers. Every week, drivers share news about their travels with their class. Once a month, students write letters to their drivers.

In December, Garrett was named “Trucker Buddy of the Month.” Teacher, Jennifer Austin of Demorest Elementary in Demorest, Georgia, nominated Garret stating, “My class and I would like to nominate our wonderful Trucker Buddy, Mr. Randy Garrett, for the Driver of the Month Award. Mr. Garrett has been sending post cards and visiting my class for the last two years. You should see the twinkle in my students’ eyes when I announce ‘We have mail from our Trucker Buddy!’ They love hearing from him. We always pull out the map so we can see exactly where he has been and how far he had to travel. We also use the postcards to help us review in Social Studies.

Garrett not only sends postcards, he visits the school and takes in goodie bags and cupcakes and eats lunch with the students.  He teaches the students what it’s like to be a truck driver and how important it is to transport goods across the country.

In her nomination letter, Ms. Austin goes on to say, Mr. Garrett is a fine example for my students, and I am so proud that he is our Trucker Buddy. Occasionally the students will see him out in public (store, movie, sporting event, etc.). They always come back the next day to tell the whole class that they got to see their Trucker Buddy. They truly consider him to be a hero. I am thankful for his role in being the positive role model that so many of my students need.”

Jeff and Val Fillpot have also spent the last two years corresponding with elementary students, as hosts of 2 Flat Stanleys.

The Project provides an opportunity for students to make connections with students of other member schools who’ve signed up with the project. Students begin by reading the book and becoming acquainted with the story. The students make paper “Flat Stanleys”  The Stanleys are then sent to their hosts, who can either send them to another location, or travel with them.  The hosts typically send postcards or emails back to the classroom, so students can chart their Flat Stanley’s travels.  The focus of Flat Stanley is on geography and literacy.

Last year, the Fillpots created a facebook page for their Flat Stanley, “Flat Gracyn,” named for the paper doll’s creator, Gracyn who is also the Fillpot’s granddaughter.

Flat Gracyn traveled to more than 25 states.  The Fillpots posted photos of Flat Gracyn along the way and included geography facts, as well as suggestions for students to read, eat healthy and exercise.

At the end of Flat Gracyn’s travels, the Fillpots sent Flat Gracyn back to Smithville Elementary in Smithville, Missouri along with atlases, t-shirts, pencils and die-cast semi-trucks for each of  the students.

Truckers have the opportunity to teach students about things they may not learn in textbooks.  If you would like to participate in the Trucker Buddy International program, visit their site to apply.  The Flat Stanley app. is available to iPhone users and can be used to map Flat Stanley’s travels.

If you, or another driver you know, donate their time to the community, please share your story with us at [email protected]  We’d love to hear your stories.