Sixth graders at Magnolia Middle School in Meridian have been writing their pen pal for several weeks. He surprised them with a face-to-face visit Tuesday.
Truck driver Jeffery Sheppard is part of the award winning "Trucker Buddy" program that pairs classrooms with truck drivers across the country. Officials say the program has proved to be a valuable teaching tool.
"We are able to talk about all the subjects; geography, history, math, reading and science. Everything that we need to teach we can incorporate through a lesson with our trucker buddy," said teacher Brenda Fortson.
The students track Sheppard's movements across the United States and Canada. This is his first Trucker Buddy class and he says he plans to continue with the program next year.
"Knowing that I can educate kids as much as I can, like I said, I love working with children. Just the fact of knowing I can put a smile on somebody's face," said Sheppard.
The Trucker Buddy program not only helps teach the children about math and science and geography, it also helps them learn about different cultures.
Sheppard says the students frequently ask him about his native Canada. The program also helps students learn about their own country as well.
"I hope they have a better sense of how this country works," said Fortson. "A lot of times we think that when we go to Wal-Mart or when we go to the grocery store, that the stuff just magically appears on the shelves, and a lot of us don't realize that a lot of work has gone into bringing those things to us."
After visiting the students, Sheppard headed out to make the 22-hour trip back to Canada.