Life as an over the road truck driver can be a big adjustment, but Crowder College’s MoSTEMWINs navigator is helping students adapt to their new lifestyle.
Prior to bringing in Navigator Mark Shryock, Crowder tried a number of different strategies to help students learn and adapt to life on the road, but nothing seemed to click. Then based on employer feedback, they expanded a professional development component to their Transport Training Program and hired a navigator to guide students through the program.
Mark greets students on the first day of class with a presentation on professionalism and soft skills. As a group, the students first learn study skills, then they work on topics like how to shake hands, make eye contact and greet others. Then the group transitions into a unit on money management on the road. They also cover a topic which employer partners reported as a major challenge to truck driver retention—managing work-life balance. Mark helps students be mindful of their physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health. Lastly, they review what they’ve learned with a recap on professionalism and maintaining a balanced lifestyle.
According to Crowder grant staff, sometimes it’s the informal time outside of the classroom that benefits students the most.
“What makes our MoSTEMWINs navigator exceptional is that he frequently meets with students during meals,” Kathy Parker-Collier, grants manager said. “The informal environment puts students at ease. They can let their guard down, and it creates comradery.”
It helps that Mark went through the transportation training program earlier in his career. This experience gives him a unique perspective on the challenges that students face.
“When I observe the students with our navigator, I can see their body language change—they take a deep breath and begin to relax,” Kathy said. “It’s amazing to see students who have been out of the classroom for years discuss things like overcoming test anxiety. You can see that they can relate to one another, and through that engagement they are invigorated and have a new pride about what they are doing.”
Both Frank Botello and Marcus Morgan found having a navigator extremely helpful. Both Frank and Marcus were sponsored by employer partner O’Reilly Automotive, and received a promotion, pay increase and a new career upon completion of Crowder’s Transport Training program.
For Frank the greatest benefits of having a navigator were the study techniques that he learned, but he said that Mark also helped him to fit into the program. For Marcus, the benefits were more personal. Meeting informally with the navigator helped Marcus to overcome his anxiety. He worked through different life challenges and developed better study habits in his time with Mark.
Both Frank and Marcus would recommend Crowder’s Transport training program.
“With a CDL under my belt, I feel prepared to drive safely and take my new career on the road,” Frank said.