Kathy Burke’s fourth-grade class took the high road this school year. And the low road, and almost every road in between.
At least, that’s how the Whitman Elementary School class felt after spending their year as trucker buddies with Steve and Christy Herbeck of Sierra Vista.
"I thought it was amazing how they could travel around the world," said Marquis Toney, 10.
The Trucker Buddy pen pal program matches classrooms with truckers so students can learn about the country through their traveling friends.
Burke’s class has been involved in the program nine years. It’s the first year her class has met the Herbecks, who drive "Miss Daisy’’ (their maroon and white truck) and take along former junk yard dog Doughboy.
Since the beginning of the school year, the Herbecks have mailed wedding photos, letters and postcards from every state — except South Dakota, Hawaii and Alaska, the only states they haven’t visited.
Several postcards, depicting everything from historic Philadelphia to Colorado’s bighorn sheep, are pinned to a large United States map in Burke’s classroom. She has used the couple’s experiences to teach geography, writing and several school subjects.
In turn, students wrote letters to ask questions and befriend the family, which spends much of the year in their truck.
Vanessa Mendoza, 10, and Liliana Cruz, 10, both gazed into the diesel truck — complete with refrigerator and twin beds for the long haul.
"There’s an education out there," Steve Herbeck said to Shelby West, 11, who smiled as she pointed at the map back in the classroom. "I’ve been mostly everywhere," Shelby said. Other students haven’t had as many travels, but said they hoped to now that they got a glimpse of the nation, from mountains to fields. "I think it would be cool to travel all around the U.S. and meet new people, see new things," said Yamile Lozano, 9.