The Class That Stays Together Gets Its CDL Together

Debby Mobley, the owner of Truck America Training, has a pretty reliable gauge for how her students will fare when it comes to passing or failing the CDL exam.

“If I get a class that bonds … and helps each other, they’ll all pass,” Mobley said. “The best one in the class will pull up the weak link and they’ll work together as a team. It’s kind of like the military. But if I get a class and a couple of them [keep to themselves] on their breaks … that class kinda pulls away from each other. There’s no bonding. There’s no team. When that happens, the failures go up because the better students aren’t helping the weaker links.”

Early indications are that the CDL or Bust class is on the positive end of that measuring stick. During breaks, the six guys can usually be found outside the building swapping stories about their jobs or families. Anna Basham, the lone female in the class, isn’t excluded from the group, but she tends to remain in the classroom during breaks.

PHOTO GALLERY: Photos of students, classroom and training property. 

“She’s kinda quiet, but she’ll tell stories about things that happened on [the school bus she drove] or things in her life with her kids and grandkids,” student Jason Horton said. “We’re getting to know each other, getting a bond between us all.”

But on Day 4, only four of the students scored high enough to earn their CDL permits. Teddy Flener Jr. and Russell Durgasingh were planning to retake the test on Friday, and Ryan Strange was ironing out an issue with his physical exam.

"We’ve talked to ‘em about anything they need help on, we’ll try to help,” said Joey Wilson Jr., who passed the test along with Anna Basham and Wayne Meenach. (Jason Horton already had a permit.) “I’m confident that they’ll get it the next time around.”

The class also had to get used to very different instructors as ex-Marine Bob Cross has been filling in the last two days, while the soft-spoken Ann Wooldridge shows her miniature horses at the Kentucky State Fair.  

Student Teddy Flener Jr. said Cross’ loud, booming voice was a serious wakeup call when he met the class for the first time at 6:30 a.m. on Day 3.

“He makes sure you’re paying attention,” Horton said. “He makes sure you come back from your breaks on time, make sure everything’s done by the book. It’s a little bit of a change, but it’s a good change.”

- By David Elfin, Transport Topics staff reporter. Photo by John Sommers II for TT