Pendleton teacher who won grant to buy food truck says it's a dr - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Pendleton teacher who won grant to buy food truck says it's a dream come true

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Kristin Swaggart is awarded a $100,000 educational grant. Kristin Swaggart is awarded a $100,000 educational grant.

9-1-17 UPDATE:

PENDLETON, OR - Have you ever dreamed what you would do with $100,000? 

For one Pendleton teacher, that dream has become a reality. 

Months after winning a grant from Farmers Insurance, the Pendleton High School culinary program food truck was finally delivered. 

"It smells like a new car, but only better," PHS Culinary Arts teacher Kristin Swaggart said. 

Nowadays, just about every city has at least a couple food trucks.

"I don't know why it came to me in a dream," said Swaggart. "But it did, and so that is why and I became obsessed with the fact that I really wanted my program to have a food truck and stand out and be different."

But for Swaggart, this food truck is much more than meets the eye. 

"We're teaching students you don't have to go off to a four-year college, it's great if you do," she said. "I'm not saying I don't support that, it's wonderful, but it's not meant for a lot of people. So we need to be proactive and give them these life skills in high school that they can take to go to trade schools, and get those certifications that are just as valuable."

Of course it will still be pumping out some delicious food. The truck will be used primarily on campus, but Swaggart has a couple off-campus plans for it too. 

"We'll serve food to the homeless at the warming station when temperatures start dropping below freezing, so that's really near and dear to my heart. Something I'm really looking forward to using the truck for," she said. 

It's all a part of thanking the community she says has helped make her dream a reality. 

"I was up against huge communities, huge cities, it's a real testament to Pendleton that I won the money, because if it wasn't for how everyone rallies together and comes together for a cause, there's no way it would have been possible," she said. 


PENDLETON, OR -  An eastern Oregon teacher is one of very few teachers around the nation who made it to the finals of the Farmers Insurance Dream Big Teacher Challenge through Thank America's Teachers. The grand prize? $100,000.

It started as a typical Tuesday at Pendleton High School. It's the kind of town where everyone knows everyone.

"I knew her parents really well. I hadn't seen her in 20 years so she'd grown up quite a bit," said Craig Christianson who owns two Farmers Insurance offices. He's talking about 'Chef K' and these days just about everybody knows her.

"I was told there was an assembly for Pride Bucks which is our school spirit assembly and they completely surprised me! They called me out on the floor and I thought I was passing out t-shirts. I turned around and looked at the screen and my name was up there," said Culinary Arts Teacher Kristin Swaggart.

Farmers Insurance agents and other representatives surprised her with a very big check: a $100,000 grant which Swaggart will use to buy a food truck.

"We'll use it in the community to serve the homeless population. We'll use it to raise funds for other groups on campus, not just culinary arts. Teaching the kids how to run a small business and establish some work ethic and a little pride and motivation," said Swaggart who has already established some Pendleton pride just by entering the Dream Big Teacher Challenge.

"You know, in small towns it's kind of networked together in itself. Therefore, everybody in the community kind of got involved, everywhere you would go people were talking about it. Vote that was the whole thing and everybody got excited about it," said Christianson.

"I mean the food truck is a huge prize but as a teacher, especially high school, it's our job to inspire them and dreaming big and believing in themselves is really the message here," said Swaggart.

Her impromptu acceptance speech included some powerful words, as well. 

"Look what we did together. Don't be afraid of your hopes and ideas. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and support you and then work hard to make it happen. Thank you," Swaggart said over a microphone to the student body.

The Farmers Insurance Dream Big Teacher Challenge was decided by online voters nationwide. Swaggart is one of just six winners in the $100,000 category and went up against teachers from places as large as Los Angeles.