Mesa students get a chance to meet their Trucker Buddy - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Education News

Mesa students get a chance to meet their Trucker Buddy

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Posted: Thursday, May 18, 2006 11:45 am | Updated: 3:29 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

After a year of receiving letters, postcards and souvenirs, Kathy Burke’s fourthgrade class finally met the truck-driver couple they have “traveled” with across the country.

The 30 Whitman Elementary School students spent Wednesday morning having fun with the couple, Christy and Steve Herbeck of Sierra Vista.

They all were given tours of the 18-wheel tractor-trailer, affectionately named Miss Daisy, and fawned over Doughboy, the 12-year-old friendly, black-and-white spotted dog who accompanies the Herbecks on their travels.

“I like the TV. It’s cool,” said 10-year-old Nohemi Rodriguez, echoing what most of the students liked about the tour. “And it’s the first time I’ve touched a dog with spots.”

It’s the second year the Herbecks have been writing to Burke’s Mesa class through the Trucker Buddy International pen pal program, and the seventh year Burke has been involved with the program. Trucker Buddy is a nonprofit organization based out of Wisconsin that matches second- to eighth-grade classes with professional truck drivers.

Burke said she likes it because it’s a real-world lesson on geography, map skills, written communication, reading and math.

“It’s like one of the best vehicles I’ve ever had to teach about the United States because it’s the real thing,” she said. “They get so excited. It makes them aware there’s a big wide world out there.”

The students each wrote letters once a month to the Herbecks, and in return the couple sent weekly items such as pictures, puzzles, books and postcards from interesting places they visited.

“I love it,” said Steve Herbeck, 59, a truck driver for four years and a former cabinet manufacturer. “We enjoy poring over the letters. It’s such a joy to us.”

The postcards and letters sent by the Herbecks are pinned to a topographical map in the classroom so the students can track their travels. There were postcards showing off everything from Reno and the Twin Tunnels in Wyoming, to Niagara Falls and Mount Rushmore.

The kids “oohed” and “aahed” over the 70-inch condo cab, so tall even an adult couldn’t reach the ceiling. Christy Herbeck, 32, showed the kids the small refrigerator, bunk-style bed and the new fancy flat-screen TV she received for her birthday.

Steve, the truck’s driver, showed off his burgundy beauty by opening up the back of the trailer to display the furniture and other stage equipment they picked up in Los Angeles that will be used in an opera in Miami. He also opened up the hood to reveal the massive engine. The kid’s reaction: “Cool.”

Joshua Watt was so excited to meet the Herbecks, he made a wish to his teacher.

“I wish Steve was my uncle and Christy was my aunt, then I could visit Doughboy whenever I want,” said the 10-year-old.

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