Southwest Truck Driver Training Instructor Marks 20 Years: Ken Barton

If you’re a new CDL student or instructor at Southwest Truck Driver Training at our Phoenix campus, you’re likely to encounter Ken Barton. A longstanding member of our staff, Ken has been integral to the growth—both in geographical reach and reputation—of Southwest Truck Driver Training as a regional powerhouse training commercial drivers for new careers.

Over the years, Ken has heard from many students that a friend referred them to Southwest Truck Driver Training because of their positive experience with Ken, or that knowing about a friend’s experience with Ken led to them choosing Southwest as their CDL school.

We’re delighted to celebrate Ken’s 20th anniversary as an instructor here at Southwest, the same year that we are celebrating 25 years as a truck driving school.

We caught up with Ken to get his reflections on his career so far at Southwest Truck Driver Training.


Congratulations on 20 years of service!

Ken Barton

Ken Barton

The Covenant Family congratulates Ken Barton on 20 years of service with Southwest Truck Driver Training! We can’t thank him enough for the training and development he has provided to students over the years.

– Zach Harshey, Driver Recruiting Covenant Logistics


What were you doing before you joined Southwest, and what made you join the team here?

Before I joined Southwest, I was driving for myself as an owner-operator. After I relocated from California in 2004, I saw some ads for truck driving schools in the area and applied.

I was actually several interviews deep into the hiring process with another CDL school when I saw an ad for an open instructor role at Southwest and decided to fill out an application. [Southwest President] Sean [Williams] followed up with me and pretty much hired me on the spot, and the rest is history. At the time, Southwest was in our first location of what is now three busy campuses.


What makes you excited to come into work year after year?

What keeps me coming back is the camaraderie of the instructors that I’ve developed over the years. I also appreciate how the students all have different learning styles, which means we instructors need to vary our teaching techniques so it’s not monotonous for them.

The school environment has a family atmosphere that I’ve come to love. Coming to work every day is like coming to see my extended family.


What are you most proud of from your 20 years at Southwest?

I remember I had one student from Iraq. I had to spend a lot of time with him because of his learning capabilities and because he was still learning English. Just to give you a sense of where he started, this student only knew how to read from right to left rather than left to right, as we do in English.

I encouraged him to keep moving forward. With a little extra help from me, he got through the class and finally graduated our CDL program.

As this graduate was about to leave, he caught me out back with tears in his eyes and could not thank me enough for not giving up on him. It was such a privilege to be able to give him an extra boost in his training and to see him succeed.


What’s your favorite story to tell about your time at Southwest?

When I teach my students, I make it a point to get to know them a bit more personally. A number of years ago, I was chatting with a student and discovered that we had some mutual friends. Through that student, I was able to reconnect with two good friends from years ago with whom I’d lost touch.

I still keep up with those two reconnected friends today—I even went to a Scorpions concert with one of them years after we’d attended our last one together!

Relationship-building with our students is priceless in more ways than one. If I hadn’t taken the extra effort to build rapport with my students, I would never have reconnected with either one of them.


What are some pieces of advice you’d like to share with the next generation of trucking educators?

Your students are already nervous, so tread lightly.

Keep it light, make it fun.

If you have a student that is getting you, have the class take a break. Take a moment to refocus.

When students enjoy their time with you, they will tell others.


SWTDT Ken teaching students