An exchange of smiles and a fist bump between newly certified truck driver Joey Woodle and Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Quentin Morris allowed both to celebrate a huge milestone Wednesday, May 9.
Woodle, who is deaf, realized a lifelong dream moments earlier by passing his driving test and earning a commercial driver’s license from the Central Alabama Community College’s Truck Driver Training School.
The final test brought an end to a long journey for both Woodle and Morris.
The two have worked closely on job searches, and both thought a trucking career was out of reach until a medical waiver was discovered. When Woodle, a Huntsville native, was ready to proceed, he and Morris chose CACC because of the school’s ties to E.H. Gentry in Talladega.
Now, six weeks and 240-instruction hours later, Woodle is ready to hit the road with an offer on the table from Shaffer Trucking.
Woodle said he hopes his journey can serve as motivation to others with hearing loss. He has already recommended the program to others.
“I am so excited to show them that they can pass, they can do it,” he said. “I have a friend who is Deaf, and I told him to come over and get the training. I have been telling all of my friends that they can do it.”
It was hard to tell who was more excited about the accomplishment. Morris sported a smile that was equal to that of Woodle. He said he was not only excited for Woodle but for others who thought this career field might not be available.
“I am so excited for him, because this has been a goal for him and for several people who are Deaf and hard of hearing,” he said.
Woodle, who is 50, said he waited a long time to follow in the footsteps of family members who have also driven big rigs. They served as his inspiration.
“Ever since I was little, I have always been interested (in trucking),” he said. “My dad and my uncle were truck drivers, and I would ride along with them. I thought, ‘This looks really interesting. I can do that too.’ ”
CACC instructor Willie Brooks was admittedly nervous in the beginning but now says Woodle has been one of his better students.
“I found out he was no different than anybody else,” he said. “He was a good student. He was a really good student who caught on quick.”
Brooks said he and Woodle established signs along the way to improve their communication during the driving portion of his training. He said it was very rewarding to help someone realize his dream, and he welcomes the possibility to train other drivers with hearing loss.
Woodle, who was recently featured in The Alexander City Outlook and Overdrive Magazine, said now that he is certified he cannot wait to hit the road.
“I am just excited and ready to get to work,” he said.
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