Crystal Apple winner: Dawn Doherty

Doherty is described as “an inspiration” by her co-workers
Published: May. 3, 2021 at 5:28 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Monday marks the start of Teacher Appreciation Week. Throughout this week, NBC15 will honor five teachers with a Crystal Apple Award and 10 honorable mentions.

The award is given to teachers who have touched the lives of others.

The first recipient is Dawn Doherty, a special education assistant (SEA) at Prairie View Middle School in Sun Prairie. Doherty is described as “an inspiration” by her co-workers.

Dawn's coworkers supporting her.
Dawn's coworkers supporting her.(Dawn Doherty)

In her 19 years of working with special education students, 16 of those at Prairie View Middle School, Doherty has started every day with a smile.

“I feel like I was put on this earth to help people, whether it’s children, adults, it doesn’t matter,” Doherty said in an interview with NBC15.

Doherty’s students are her number one priority. She checks in with students in four different classrooms to give them any one-on-one help they need.

“She has a special way of interacting and working with our students with the most significant special needs in a way that shows them compassion and a respect that students deserve,” Prairie View Middle School Principle Michelle Jensen said.

Her goals are to encourage them, help them get their work done and make them feel proud of themselves.

Achieving those goals proved to be a challenge for Doherty and her students this past year. Not only was she teaching during a pandemic, but she was also teaching while battling stage three cancer. She ended up having surgery after weeks of treatment.

“I had surgery March 31 of 2020. April 1st I was on zoom, working,” Doherty said. “Laying in my hospital bed with my screen off, because I didn’t want my kids to see that I was in the hospital.”

Dawn working from home while she received chemo treatments.
Dawn working from home while she received chemo treatments.(Dawn Doherty)

One of Doherty’s long-time co-workers, Robin Henning, was shocked to see her back in the virtual classroom so soon after her surgery. Doherty didn’t stop there with the surprises. She also decided to return to in person learning when the district brought kids back into the building, even though her fight against cancer was not over.

“Her coming back under her circumstances, she has been an inspiration for all of us,” Henning said.

Doherty was surprised with the award during an all-staff zoom meeting. She was shocked and said she was grateful for the support she has had through these trying times.

“I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate each and every one of you,” Doherty said. “Through this fight, it’s been great to know that you all have my back.”

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