Commercial Drivers’ License Instructor Ed Naples of Mexico with a tractor-trailer used for high school and adult learners at Region 9 School of Applied Technology in Mexico. Submitted photo

Although Ed Naples retired from his commercial drivers’ license instructor’s position this spring, he plans to come back in the fall to again teach at Region 9 School of Applied Technology in Mexico, probably for fewer hours though, he says. Keeping busy and helping others has been a hallmark of Naples’ life, and he’ll likely continue that whether he’s working full-time or enjoying his version of retirement.

Ed Naples at age 7 at home in Mexico with his toy trucks. Submitted photo

Name: Ed Naples

Town: Mexico

Married/single/relationship? Married to my wife, Marie, with two adult children, Neil and Emily.

Job: Region 9 School of Applied Technology commercial drivers’ license instructor.

Why did you get into teaching as a big rig instructor? Career technical education here at Region 9 School of Applied Technology is a great opportunity for professional people, in their trade, to pass on their skills through the apprentice approach, from generation to generation, whether it be in a high school setting or through adult education.

There are so many people out there in jobs that do not utilize their potential, kind of like “Alice in Wonderland” not knowing which road to take, and they just take any road.

A photo of the Sea of Galilee taken by Ed Naples when he traveled with friends during his college days in the 1970s.

Teaching, for me, was a great opportunity to help students to enhance their quality of life no matter what age they are at. Today there are so many great paying jobs in a truck driving career.

Why retire now? I guess that is what people do after so many years. LOL. I still plan to stay in the job only at a different capacity, maybe less hours.

What skills are needed to drive a big truck? An attitude of safety, awareness of the size of your vehicle, skills in multitasking, (awareness of) what is ahead, behind, to the sides, above and below you. (Remember key lessons like:) Don’t be in the pack with other vehicles — packs are trouble! Leave yourself an out. Always drive according to the road conditions. Drive with the thought “preventability.” A driver should always be anticipating the moves of drivers around them.

I like the Smiths System. They utilize the Space Cushion Driving approach. A lot of professional drivers, using the Smith System, are trained to be aware of their surroundings, whether it be on the interstate or local roads. Being aware of the traffic conditions, road conditions, weather conditions, light conditions, vehicle conditions and mostly your condition as a driver. You shouldn’t be inspired to be a truck driver after watching “Smokey and the Bandit,” breaking laws and acting in mischievous ways on the highway.

What inspired you to be a truck driver? When I was about 12 years old on a cold winter day, a driver got stuck in our yard from high snow drifts. Joe Dunham, from Dixfield, a professional driver himself, was pleased that I could take a big truck and pull him out of the snow drifts. He said, “Someday you’re going to make a fine truck driver.” We became longtime friends. Joe was on my truck driving advisory committee for years.

What are some of your favorite hobbies? My favorite hobbies are photography, hiking, traveling, cooking, wood and metal projects. I like to take time out every week to cruise around and take photos. For me, it is a way to unwind from a busy week. Everyone needs some quiet time, a way to recharge. So many people have a list of things to do. I’m glad I have been able to do these things.

A recent Roxbury Pond sunset photo taken by Ed Naples.

Cooking is another way to relax and try different recipes whether it be stir-frys, soups, pastas or something on the grill. A lot of people have enjoyed my seafood chowder at the St. Theresa’s Church in Mexico, Maine Christmas fairs.

What are some of your favorite life, travel and photography experiences? The birth of a child is an exciting moment in life. When your son, who is about to graduate from college, receives a blood plasma transfusion and given a new opportunity in life is another great moment. For our family, and Marie, my wife, Emily, my daughter, and Neil, my son, this was an awesome experience.

Some of my favorite photo experiences have been traveling around the Maine coast and California coast, especially the Big Sur area, Israel — Mt. Sinai, Jerusalem — and “Friday night cruises” around Maine with my mom were always something to look forward to before she passed.

As part of my Senior Seminar at the Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, where I attended college in the late ’70s, three of my classmates — Alan, Urby and Keith — and I sojourned throughout Israel for a month. We toured many important places and climbed many sacred mountains: Mt. Sinai, Mt. Taber, Masada. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will always remember.

What is your educational background and what kinds of work have you done in the past? In college, I was a theology major, and psychology-education minor. I was an assistant dorm director and residence assistant. I am a certified Myers-Briggs type practitioner. In each truck driving class, I have each student take a questionnaire to see what type they are. Students are usually at awe to see themselves so precise in the results.

I am an instructor for the Bureau of Highway Safety, teaching Maine Driving Dynamics around the state. I served in the Maine Army National Guard for eight years in the ’70s as a heavy equipment operator and chaplain’s assistant. I was assigned a front-end bucket loader, M-60 machine gun, a 45 (caliber) weapon, and a lectionary.

What are some of your favorite quotes and why? “Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play and pray. Where nature heals and gives strength to body and soul,” by John Muir. I like this quote because it reminds us of the importance of taking time to be creative and taking time for reflection in our life.

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Oftentimes a student will be explained how to execute a maneuver by numerous people, then someone comes along and click, the student understands.

“Ahh, more practice needed,” by Yoda. I am a “Star Wars” fan. This quote fits into what I often say in class: “More practice.”

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