FORT RUCKER, Ala. (November 15, 2012) -- Some would argue that teaching is among the toughest and most rewarding jobs there is, and Fort Rucker Primary School is showing its appreciation to those that do more than teach -- they help children grow.

During American Education Week, Fort Rucker Primary School honors its aides and substitute teachers by providing them a luncheon Nov. 16, according to Sara Dawkins, learning impaired resource teacher at FRPS.

"There was a need to recognize the substitutes and aides because they are two of the most valuable groups that we have [here at the primary school]," she said. "We see the aides as co-teachers in the classroom. They collaborate with the teachers and they are working with the students all the time.

"And the substitutes are so reliable for us. When we're not able to be here, we know that they'll follow the classroom routine and take care of the children in our absence," said Dawkins.

The recognition came about as part of a national day set aside to honor the substitutes and aides, but Dawkins said that they needed more than just a day of recognition, but something special for them.

It was decided that a luncheon during which members of the FRPS staff bring a covered dish, along with the national day of appreciation, would best show how much they are valued.

"They are all just so wonderful," said Dawkins. "We just love them and appreciate them so much, and we're just glad that a day has been set aside for them. It's nice to see that they're being recognized nationally."

Carolyn Sinquefile, substitute teacher at FRPS, said she feels enough appreciation from the teachers and staff at the primary school even without the day.

"I know that we're appreciated because they say it verbally quite often. They're always telling us 'thank you, thank you, thank you,' but the little extra step that they're showing is very nice," she said.

Billie Jo Griffith, educational aide, agrees that the added step is a welcome touch.

"It makes me feel pretty special because this is the first time that we've been specifically shown this kind of appreciation," she said. "The teachers always tell us that we are teachers with them, but it's nice to get this recognition."

"We feel that we're a part of the staff here [at Fort Rucker Primary School]," said Gayle Hottel, substitute teacher. "The teachers here always make us feel like we're part of the staff and not just a temporary employee."

Hottel has been a substitute at the primary school for 12 years and said she loves to work with children, and that's the main reason she does what she does.

"I had always volunteered in the schools, and one of the teachers suggested that I become a substitute," she said. "I had never really thought about it before, but now I'm doing the same thing that I love and getting paid for it. I love getting to know all the children in the school, not just in one class."

The substitutes get the unique opportunity to build relationships with children throughout the entire school rather than a single class.

"It's nice to watch them grow," said Sinquefile. "It's nice to know that you helped to give them a little foothold before they move on."

Griffith said although it's nice to be recognized for what she does, it's not about the appreciation day, but about the children she's helping to educate.

"When you're with these students from the beginning of the year and you see the progress that they've made, you feel like you've made a difference," she said, adding that it is no single effort to educate and be there for the children, but a collaborative effort from everyone involved at the primary school.

"We're such a team here and some children need more attention than others. It's nice for them to have an extra person in the classroom," she said. "We're all here for each other and that makes such a difference, and that's another thing that I love about my job ­-- my Family of coworkers."