Trucker Buddies, Al and Kym Hemerson, were so pleased with their teacher, Barbara Swalina, who teaches first grade at North Glendale Elementary School, in Kirkwood, Mo., that they nominated her as a Trucker Buddy Outstanding Teacher.

Swalina has been in the Trucker Buddy organization for the past 12 years and has been matched with the Hemersons for over six years.

"Mrs. Swalina and her husband have welcomed us as guests into their home as well as their lives," The Hemersons say in describing why they feel Swalina deserves the award. "They have assisted us in getting special treats for the students over the past years. Mrs. Swalina has allowed us great access and interaction with the class. While maintaining and instructing within the parameters of her curriculum, she has gone above and beyond the set outlined goal."

Swalina has been educating students for the past 21 years teaching curriculum for first grade through fourth grade.

According to the Hemersons, during the school year Swalina has contributed her time and efforts for accessing the program 'Coats for Kids,' thus allowing her the opportunity to help purchase winter gear for some of the less fortunate students. Donating her time, Swalina cooperates with the parent or parents to find a suitable coat for the children.

Many of the incoming students and their parents request participation in Swalina's class. They not only want the great learning skills that Swalina instills in them, but they are also very excited about the Trucker Buddy organization that she participates in.

The Hemersons say Swalina goes way out of her way to keep students involved in the Trucker Buddy program.

The parents of one of the students in class at the beginning of the 2011 school year had a job requiring that they move to Indiana. Throughout that school year, the student was included in the postcards and activities involving Trucker Buddy. In anticipation of one of the Hemersons' visits, Swalina notified the student's parents.

The family was scheduled to be in the St. Louis area at that time, and was able to bring their daughter to the school so that she was included in the day's activities. Along with them, many of the student's parents attended the activities of the day.