Each year, students in Jim Cowhey’s second grade class at Highlands Elementary School in Spring Valley, Calif., write to different companies across the U.S. to learn more about the business world and how various organizations operate. When their letters reached the desks of the Volkswagen PR and Marketing departments, a plan was hatched to surprise the kids with a special visit to their classroom.
“The night before these letters found their way to my desk, I was telling my son how important it is to make your voice heard – both as a consumer, and as part of your community. When I saw how much effort and thought these children put into their notes to all of us here at Volkswagen, I knew we had a great opportunity to show them that companies do listen,” said Will Gock, Product Communications Senior Specialist, Volkswagen Group of America.
During the recent surprise visit, special guest Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross driver Tanner Foust and Gock spoke to the students about what it is like to work for a car company, detailing their specific roles for Volkswagen as a race car driver and on the public relations team; the kids hung on to every word.
“I really wish we could bottle up the reception we got when we arrived and share it with our VWGoA colleagues,” Gock said. “We had planned to surprise the class with Tanner, but somebody leaked that classified information. When we arrived, the students were geared up in all their VW swag, screaming ‘Tanner Foust!’ and cheering. It was amazing.”
“Any time you have the opportunity to share your passions with excited kids is a good day,” Foust said. “I loved meeting Mr. Cowhey’s class and it was awesome to see them so eager to learn about the fun I get to have inside of cars and some of the safety precautions and math and science that goes into the stunts and racing I do.”
After the presentation, the children had the opportunity to ask Foust and Gock questions, try on some of Foust’s racing gear, practice how to sign autographs, and even check out two Volkswagen vehicles: the Beetle Dune Convertible and Foust’s 900-horsepower Formula Drift Passat. The class also got to take home their own VW gear to remember the day.
Before finishing up a great morning at Highlands Elementary, the San Diego students sent the Volkswagen team home with drawings and thank you letters – both to Foust and Volkswagen – recapping how much the visit had meant to them.