From the Mouths of Third Graders: Questions for Trucker Buddy Travis Boardman
“Mr. Boardman, do you like blueberry pie?” asked the inquisitive youngster of FedEx Ground contractor Travis Boardman. Eager to learn more about the man in the FedEx Ground uniform, the attentive third-grade students at Westside Intermediate School peppered Travis with interesting questions about his likes and dislikes with an odd fascination on flavors of pie.
While others patiently waited with their hands held high to ask a question, one young boy was nearly bursting at the seams wanting to ask his, “Will you still be our Trucker Buddy in fourth grade?”
The children breathed a sigh of relief when Travis replied that he would always be their Trucker Buddy.
On this sunny March day in Hebron, Maryland, Travis was visiting the school as part of Trucker Buddy International. Since September, he has been the kids’ Trucker Buddy, trading letters with them as part of a unique program whose aim is to educate and mentor school children via a pen-pal relationship.
Based in Salisbury, Maryland, Travis first learned of the non-profit organization from other drivers while participating — and winning — several American Trucking Associations’ truck driving events. Currently, more than 60 FedEx contractors and drivers are Trucker Buddies to children across the country.
Previously paired with a school in Massachusetts, the 14-year FedEx Ground veteran now lives a mere 15 minutes away from his pen pals. Fortunate to have flexibility in his schedule, which involves managing his four FedEx Ground routes and seven employees, Travis approached his friend, school teacher Dawn Bonenberger, about enrolling in the program. “I wanted to find a closer school. In the past, I could only visit my class once a year,” said Travis.
The children have benefited by his proximity. In early March, he read Dr. Seuss books to the students as part of the Read Across America program sponsored by the National Education Association.
While he can’t visit as often as the kids would like, he is in constant communication with them via technology. “When I realized that corresponding with Travis on a monthly basis wasn’t enough, a fellow teacher set up a blog allowing us to write daily,” stated Dawn.
Launched in January, the blog lets Travis assist Dawn in teaching the young minds. Travis challenges the students with questions that cover a broad range of subjects including geography, manners, math and safety, which Travis is an expert on considering he has more than 1.3 million miles of accident-free driving under his belt. The students respond to his quizzes and then ask Travis questions about his family, his success business with FedEx Ground and, yes, favorite pie flavors.
“Before the kids even put their backpacks down in the morning, they want to check the computers to see if Travis has replied,” Dawn commented. “By writing to Travis, they are practicing keyboarding and letter writing skills. They’ve learned to use capital letters and the space bar.”
After treating the students to a pizza party and presenting them with FedEx Ground t-shirts that he had made for them, both Travis and the students were reluctant to end this special visit. Travis left with a stack of homemade thank-you cards and the promise to return with a FedEx Ground truck.
“This is an experience that they will never forget,” said Travis.