NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — Every teacher has their own story about how they got their start in education.

So does Instructional Aid Jackie Foster at Chasco Elementary in New Port Richey.

“I started 21 years ago when my daughter was in elementary school,” Foster said. “I used to volunteer in a class.  

“The assistant principal called me one summer and said ‘Would you like a job?...And I said sure and it's been that way ever since.”

Jackie fills in the gaps.

She looks for kids that need some extra one on one help in most any subject.

“There are four of us instructional assistants,” she said. “We work as a team with the teachers.

“We travel to all of the classes as needed. We work with math, reading, sometimes we work with science. These are all subjects that benefit from the attention we can give the students.”

Talk about travel - switching from classroom to classroom - looking for kids who need some TLC - tender learning care. It’s attention these students really appreciate.

“She helps me with letters and the alphabet,” said one 2nd grader. “Sometimes I write the letters backwards and she helps me figure it out.”

There also is a tremendous bond that forms between the teachers and the instructional aids.

“The amazing thing about Jackie,” said Chasco Elementary Principal Michelle Boylin. “Is that she makes an effort to not only connect with our staff but with our students and community as well.

“You should see her work the car line in the afternoon. She knows everybody by name.”

It’s those kind of relationships that have a huge impact on students. In fact, it was a former student, now a senior in high school, who nominated Foster.

“I put a lot of time, put a lot of hours in a lot of love, a lot of effort. It’s unbelievable that someone would remember me after all those years,” Foster said.

And the most rewarding part?

“Seeing the kids improve and grow and moving on to the next grade level,” Foster said.  “And knowing I, somehow, played a part in their success.”