Hometown Hero | Dawn Baumgardner

Hometown Hero | Dawn Baumgardner
Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 6:06 PM EST
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WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - While teachers dedicate their lives to their classroom, few teachers have the kind of dedication that Dawn Baumgardner has -- just to stay in the classroom.

The same qualities that earned Baumgardner a WSAZ Golden Apple have made her our latest Hometown Hero.

Her young students at Buffalo Elementary School call her “Miss B.”

As substitute teacher Brooke Ord said, “She just has an impact on the kids that you can’t describe. They are connected with her once they have her. And she’s really wonderful.”

Miss B has been teaching for 18 years. But on the day of her birthday in August she found out she had stage 3 breast cancer. She didn’t miss a beat and is still in the classroom teaching.

When we went to honor her, that’s when she skipped a beat.

“I was kind of shocked when I came in and I saw you and all the signs and the balloons,” Baumgardner said. I think that’s when the tears started. They were good tears.”

She teaches fourth-graders -- a challenge for someone who’s perfectly healthy. She goes in for chemo once a week. In addition, she coaches the cheerleaders at Spring Valley High School when she’s not teaching. The older students call her Momma Dawn -- and created shirts for her.

“She’s always been there for me whenever I need her. She is my second mom, for sure,” said Hallee Gwilliams, a Spring Valley cheerleader.

So, what drives her to stay in the classroom through the fight for her life?

“These kids ... because I know that they are looking forward to seeing me. And the relationships I’ve built with them and their families, that’s what keeps me going,” Baumgardner told WSAZ’s Rob Johnson.

For more about her inspiring story, tap or click on the video link with this story.