Visual arts teacher Doris Poppelreiter didn’t cry when she was diagnosed with cancer last fall, or when she told her students at William Blount High School, emphasizing that she had a plan of attack with treatment that would take her out of school for a few weeks. “I cried when I found out how much these kids cared,” Poppelreiter said Friday during an interview at the high school. She returned to work ahead of schedule in December and said she is now cancer-free. The students, staff and community members donated nearly $1,300 in her honor and sent it to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The money will pay for a child and parent to fly to the Memphis facility for treatment. Poppelreiter didn’t need financial aid for her treatment, but she was glad to give her name to the “Dollars for Doris” campaign to help children. She noted that Blount County has lost several young people to cancer in recent years.
English teacher Nancy Kemp started the campaign, which collected $51 from her students its first day in late October. “I want my kids to learn that if they give back, good things will happen,” Kemp said. She tells her students to “create your own karma.” As the campaign spread schoolwide, William Blount students brought in loose change and entire piggy banks, and collections were taken at basketball games and in the high school office. After a story about the campaign appeared in The Daily Times in late November, community members also sent donations to the school.
Poppelreiter heard from former students, her favorite high school teacher, and colleagues and mentors from throughout her 38 years as an educator in Blount County. “That was very humbling for me,” Poppelreiter said. Principal Rob Clark allowed teachers to wear blue jeans to school for two weeks in December when they donated $10. As the campaign was wrapping up before the winter break, Von Buchanan, cafeteria manager, presented a donation from her team that Kemp said “really pushed the goal over the edge.”
Amy Beth Miller, article-The Daily Times
Tom Sherlin, photo-The Daily Times