DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) - Vicki Hawkins has been teaching special needs students for 16 years. She's spent the past three at Chestnut Grove Elementary School.
Hawkins is famous for going above and beyond what's required.
"She's the teacher I have to run out of the building, because she is not going to leave until it's done," said Chestnut Grove Principal Karissa Lang. "She's the teacher that texts me at ten o'clock at night, and says 'I have an idea -- what do you think if we did this?'"
Hawkins also well-known at the central office. Some teachers might stay out of the way when the superintendent is in the building, but not Hawkins.
"She wants me to come in the room and see her children. She wants me to engage with them, just as I engage with any other student in the school," says Decatur Superintendent Ed Nichols.
For her dedication and her zeal for what she does, we surprised Hawkins with WHNT News 19's Tools For Teachers Award. That's $319 to help her in her classroom. The nomination came from other teachers at Chestnut Grove.
"I am overwhelmed," Hawkins said. "I mean, to be honored from your colleagues is so exciting, and I work with tremendous people."
When Hawkins says tremendous people, she's not just talking about other teachers. The special needs kids in her class are also tremendous.
"Each one has their own set of needs, and we want to one, love them, but push them. Because I know they've got to be on their own the best way they can be when they get older. So we take each day and encourage them, push them and love them," says Hawkins.
One other thing from the Tools For Teachers winner -- she says she absolutely chose the right profession. It's not always easy, but, "It's the best thing I could have ever picked," she said.