|Messenger photo by Rachel Scofield|
|Harmon Elementary School teacher Beth Gottshall, principal Shelli Miller, truck driver Don Robinson and Gottshell’s second grade class celebrate meeting each other face-to-face. Robinson has been corresponding with the students as part of Roadway’s "Trucker Buddy" pen pal program.|
To the second graders in Beth Gottshall’s class, their pen pal, Roadway trucker Don Robinson, is "real cool" and "gives us all kinds of stuff."
In fact when Robinson pulled his big rig into the Harmon Elementary School parking lot on April 21 to finally meet the class face to face, he brought two large sacks of treats.
Gottshall smiled as her students listed the treasurers they have accumulated throughout the correspondence – the hands-down favorite a Roadway pin that flashes a red light.
However, to Gottshall the most important rewards have been academic.
The students have strengthened literacy skills by reading Robinson’s letters and by writing responses. For a geography lesson they followed his route on a map, and to hone math skills they added his miles.
"Letter writing to someone real is big for our students," Gottshall said.
Upon his arrival, the children had lots of questions.
"Do you have any pets?" "any kids?," "does your truck have a waterbed?"
Afterwards, each student climbed into Robinson’s cab and sat behind the steering wheel.
Roadway recently honored Robinson with a personalized truck as a reward for driving three million miles without an accident. Only 78 of Roadway’s 10,000 drivers have achieved the feat.
"That is like driving around the world 120 times," Robinson said. "One day you guys will be out there driving. Pay attention and don’t go like a mad man."
Student Noah Aponte said having Robinson as a pen pal has been fun and has taught him "you can’t drive people off the road when you are in a hurry".
"He’s fun and answers all our questions," Aponte said. "When he writes to us he gives us fun things like pins."
Paige Blevins agreed, "I like him. He’s very, very nice and sends us all different kinds of cool things."
Both Robinson and Gottshall said they would like to continue the program next school year.