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Thanks to Teachers: Darren Joiner

On a rainy day at Spindale Elementary School, teacher's assistant Darren Joiner reads '"Pete the Cat" to a group of exceptional children. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

On a rainy day at Spindale Elementary School, teacher's assistant Darren Joiner reads '"Pete the Cat" to a group of exceptional children.

Among the fun and laughs, Joiner manages to work in some reading, some math and much joy.

"Everybody loves Mr. Joiner," longtime teacher Nikki Gilreath said. She nominated Joiner for Thanks to Teachers, saying he wears many hats -- all of them well.

"He drives a bus. He's a mentor to the children, as well as some of the teachers. He, every morning, opens car doors and greets our children every single day," she said of Joiner.

Once away from the kids, Joiner shows how serious he is about his job.

"I want them to know from the moment the car door opens and those kids step out, that there's somebody here that loves them, cares about them, that will protect them and even give his life for them if need be," Joiner said.

Joiner has worked with different grades during his 10 years at Spindale Elementary. The army veteran said it was the kindergartners that helped him loosen up the most.

"What the kindergartners helped me to learn is you can't be so rigid," he said. "You have to learn to be flexible."

Now, the firm, but fun, Joiner is the assistant in Ms. Dobbins exceptional children's class, drawing his energy from the kids.

"I just vibe off the kids and try to flow with them," Joiner said.

"He is such an asset to this school," Gilreath added.

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