ANDERSON, Calif. — Howard Salmon hit the ground running when he joined Trucker Buddy as a volunteer in 2005, engaging his class right from the start.
“The class immediately responded to him with great enthusiasm and admiration,” said Sonja Padgett, teacher of the second-grade class with which Salmon is matched at Anderson Heights Elementary School in Anderson, Calif. “Every year gets better.”
The above and beyond that earned Salmon the ACS MultiMedia Trucker Buddy Driver of the Month award for January, however, was his additional effort to support the organization through fundraising.
Early on, Salmon was as inspired by his students as they were by him, and he wrote a Trucker Buddy song for his class. Frequently accompanied by his guitar when he visited his class, Salmon, Padgett and the students all sing along together.
“This program is so inspiring,” Salmon said. “I don’t have children of my own, and being a Trucker Buddy enables me to give something to lots of children.”
Part of the song to be recorded includes children singing, which will be performed on the CD by the second graders at Anderson Heights Elementary. A sample of the lyrics:
“Who would they look up to if I turn and walk away, and who would they rely on if I look the other way. It’s important that I teach them and to help them on their way, ’cause who would they look up to if I turn and walk away. Take the time to listen to what they have to say ’cause the days just go so fast and might just slip away. When they stop to ask me questions and I just send them away, they’ll find another answer and they might just drift away.”
In early 2006, Salmon was moved to share the song with other Trucker Buddy classes and began pursuing options for having the lyrics recorded and set to CD. To date, he has gotten the music recorded and donated, the next step is to get the lyrics added to the music, and he is seeking sponsors to assist with the cost of having the CDs burned. The goal is to have the song available to the public in time for distribution at the Mid-America Trucking Show March 27-29. Salmon will donate all proceeds from the CDs to Trucker Buddy.
Songwriting is not the only talent Salmon brings to his class, noted Padgett.
“Since he is also an accomplished photographer, we have received beautiful pictures of places we have never been to, including historical monuments,” the teacher said, adding that he also sends pictures of native plants and animals from where they are across the country.
“This year he took a group picture of our two second-grade classes and had it printed on t-shirts, which he gave to each student and teacher,” Padgett wrote in her June 2007 nomination letter. “We all signed his shirt so he could wear it at the truck show in Las Vegas.”
While having all this fun, Howard still adheres to the basics of the program to supplement and encourage the students’ education.
“Howard has traveled across the country sending us e-mail messages, pictures and postcards,” Padgett said. “We think he would be a terrific Trucker Buddy Driver of the Month.”
Salmon is an owner/operator who lives in Anderson, Calif.
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