PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WJAR) -- This week's Golden Apple Award goes to Keri Bettencourt, a beloved special education teacher at Joseph Jenks Middle School in Pawtucket.
Bettencourt was nominated by a parent of a special needs student, Diane Clark.
Clark wrote that Bettencourt exemplifies strength, dedication and compassion, not only for the students, but also the parents and families
As NBC 10 News was heading to the school to present the award, Bettencourt was playing bingo with students in her special needs classroom.
"Cool. Do you have that on your bingo card?” she asked a student.
“Yes, I have,” the student answered.
When NBC 10 arrived, it was a proud moment for Bettencourt's grandmother, Doris.
"She's just a sweetheart and I'm going to cry," Doris said of her granddaughter.
Many of the children in the classroom are non-verbal, and for that reason, for parents, trust in a teacher is essential.
"It means the world to know that they trust me because they can't speak for themselves, so they need someone who's going to take care of them, treat them kind,” Bettencourt said.
The students can count on one thing -- that Bettencourt will teach them with a smile, in a loving, respectful environment.