UNSUNG HERO: Vienna teacher's aide Nicki Holloman - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

UNSUNG HERO: Vienna teacher's aide Nicki Holloman

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VIENNA -- Teachers aides are an important part of the school administrative team. They work under the direction of teachers to support children to make the most of every learning opportunity. Vienna Grade School is showing appreciation for one aide who has dedicated 40 years to the job.

With loud cheers, students and staff at Vienna Grade School surprised long-time teacher's aide Nicki Holloman with an assembly in her honor.

"I noticed the kids. I thought, well, they're dressed for Christmas and why are they all in flip-flops?" 

The school celebrated all things Nicki from her festive clothing and earrings to her love for the beach and Johnny Depp. Nicki owns about 100-pairs of flip flops she wears all year around.

"Shoes hurt my feet and sometimes in winter I can pull off toe socks and still wear flip-flops," said Nicki.    

For four decades Nicki has helped teachers and students with daily lessons in science, social studies, reading, and spelling.

"It's good. We have them in small groups and we can work with them on things they need help with," said Nicki.

"Forty years in public education, no matter what your role, is saying something about who you are. Her passion, her longevity is indicative of who we want to be and where we need to go," added district superintendent Greg Frehner.    

It's her life lessons that have had the most impact on her granddaughter Emma Nielsen.

"She really wants the kids to strive to achieve what they want and she really pushes hard to do that," said Nicki.

"I try to see their hearts and feel their feelings and I pray a lot," added Nicki.    

The 8th grader says Nicki's balance of personality, love, and discipline is what makes her want to be a teacher.

"I'm probably one of the toughest ones here. I am very tough, but I think it's necessary," said Nicki.   

"But she does it in a way to where she's not mean. She's loving and she's just kind and caring about it," added Emma.    

Nicki says she's happy being around the kids and has no plans of retiring anytime soon.

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