ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Congratulations to this week’s Golden Apple winner, D’Onnarae Johnson. Johnson is the principal at School #34 in the Rochester City School District. She has been working as an educator for 32 years.

“My favorite part about what I do is the kids. I love the kids, it’s beautiful to come into school and know that I’m impacting their learning through helping teachers on a daily basis,” Johnson said.

Johnson worked at four different RCSD schools as a teacher and principal. In both roles, she’s inspired the students and staff around her.

“As somebody who wants to be in an administrative role one day, she’s kind of my mentor,” said Kelsey Flanagan, a Special Education Teacher. “I’ve looked up to her and just her compassion for everybody, for students, staff and what they’re going through.”

Flanagan said she was especially inspired when Johnson took over as principal, while battling cancer.

“Having cancer, you can give up a lot, you could be tired and not want to come into work, and she always came into work with a smile,” Flanagan said. “We never ever saw her in an upset mood or feeling down. She always smiled.”

But to Johnson, the joy and positivity have come easy because she loves her job so much.

“We have a great school and just wonderful staff, so I’m thankful to be here,” Johnson said. “Everything I’ve ever done has been for the kids and RCSD.”

After three decades of working, Johnson plans to retire at the end of this school year. Before she leaves, Flanagan wanted to surprise her with a Golden Apple Award through News 8.

“I nominated Dee because she always does what’s best for students, staff and families,” Flanagan said. “She kind of makes herself known and makes it known that she cares about everybody deeply at a school level and outside of school.”

Congratulations to Johnson for winning a Golden Apple! We appreciate your work in the community.

If you know a teacher you’d like to nominate for the award, you can find nomination forms here.