Pay it 4ward: Charter school director honored for going above and beyond during pandemic

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The past year has been tough for New Mexico students, parents, and teachers. They’ve had to adapt to an ever-changing situation brought on by COVID-19.

Special groups coordinator Abbi Sanchez said her friend Diane Thomas went above and beyond throughout the pandemic to create a safe and successful environment for students.

"I just wanted her to know that we appreciate everything that she has done for us. From encouraging us to be better people, to helping us stay safe and healthy,” Sanchez said.

Diane, who is the director of the William W. and Josephine Dorn Community Charter School, has been so much more than a leader, Sanchez said. Diane has driven parents to medical appointments, made countless meals for students, and more.

“She’s put in a lot of her own time, fixing water lines, doing things with the garden,” Sanchez said. “She is so supportive, and just such a kind, wonderful person to work for.”

It was Diane’s dedication that inspired Sanchez to nominate her friend for Pay it 4ward.

“So Diane, I wanted to be able to take this time to be able to recognize you for all the wonderful things that you have done for our school,” she said. “Your blood, tears, and sweat—KOB here is helping me pay it forward to you so that you can take some time to relax with $400."

“You have provided so much for us here. Just the feeling of being able to come into work and knowing that we’re safe, and that somebody cares about our wellbeing. And you can’t go unrecognized. There’s no way I can let it happen,” she added.

After spending more than a year taking care of everyone, Diane is taking a sabbatical. Now, her team wants to take care of her before she leaves.

Diane said the greatest gift of all has been working with the staff and students at Dorn.

“This year has been filled with so many gifts. I’m so blessed. I’m so fortunate. I just am kind of speechless,” she said. “This is just unbelievable. I’m humbled, and I’m really, really grateful, and I’m honored.