Commercial Truck Driving instructor inspired by fellow faculty member Bob Gunter
Posted: February 01, 2021
How long have you worked at Bates, and what is your role?
I began working at Bates in Winter 2020, but I started with Bates as a student in the Commercial Truck Driving program where I now teach. I originally came in to assist the program temporarily during some personnel changes, but before that was resolved, COVID hit. We found ourselves with an entirely new problem: how do we teach truck driving online? We came up with a plan and started recording training videos and delivering them through Canvas, providing instruction to our students even when they couldn’t be here physically. We continued this effort in Fall, successfully hybridizing 14 credit hours of courses and teaching them entirely online. Our program, despite being saddled with two separate sets of state mandated COVID training restrictions, is successfully weathering this storm and continuing to deliver quality training to our students.
My role today is as a full time instructor in the program, working with both our new online only students and our returning students who are now coming in for in-truck lab assignments. I am also acting as the program coordinator as we redesign and restructure our program to accommodate these changes and support our goals to grow our program enrollment. It means I wear a lot of hats, but I also get to be a part of every step, from welcoming our first day students, to training students in the middle of their coursework and finally seeing them successfully pass their state CDL test and earning their license.
What is your favorite thing about working at Bates?
My favorite thing about my work is when my students have passed their state CDL test, earned their license and have successfully landed employment in their new career field. Hearing them talk about how their new career will change their life has been very rewarding in a way that no other career has ever provided me.
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
My hobbies include camping, motorcycle rides and car road trips. When the weather is to cold and wet for that, I’m also partial to board, card and video games.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
“Be authentic.” I have learned that key to happiness in life is to be myself, aware of others but not letting their pressures change who I am.
What do you find most challenging at Bates?
Since almost all of my time here at Bates has been during COVID, it has obviously been the thing that has been the most challenging for me – how do we meet the needs of our students, comply with the training restrictions and still meet our own standards for producing quality drivers? We are meeting that challenge, but I will admit that I’m looking forward to when things return to “normal” and we can train without restrictions again.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
Without a doubt, my biggest inspiration has been Bob Gunter, my instructor while I was here at Bates as a student and who now is my mentor. I can quite literally say “He taught me everything I know” about driving commercial trucks, but more than that he has also shared so much with me about his philosophy of training students and his vision for our program. My experience here as a student under his tutorage was such a positive, life changing experience and my goal is to have the same impact on every one of my students.
What is the most important change you see happening at Bates?
For our program, it is the desire to grow enrollment and expand our course offerings.
What three traits define you?
Empathy, Compassion and Determination. I believe that if we can empathize with others who might be different than ourselves, view them with compassion and still stay determined to make the changes that need to be made, we can make our lives – and our world – a better place.