Several people, including 2024 Teresa Perry Award winner Crystal Sohl, pose for a photo as Sohl holds a glass bowl

Crystal Sohl, center, a paraprofessional at the Kentucky School for the Blind (KSB), was named the 2024 Teresa Perry Compassion Award winner at the Kentucky Board of Education’s (KBE’s) June 6 meeting. Attending the presentation with Sohl were. from left, Interim Commissioner of Education Robin Fields Kinney, mother Deborah Johnson, KSB Principal Peggy Sinclair-Morris, Sohl, KBE Chair Sharon Porter Robinson, father Chuck Johnson and stepmother Karen Johnson. Photo by Joe Ragusa, Kentucky Department of Education, June 6, 2024

Crystal Sohl, a paraprofessional at the Kentucky School for the Blind (KSB), received the 2024 Teresa Perry Compassion Award during the Kentucky Board of Education meeting on June 6.

Sohl has been employed as a paraprofessional at KSB for 16 years.

“Crystal always comes to work with a smile and positive attitude,” said her nominator, KSB Principal Peggy Sinclair-Morris. “‘No’ is not in her vocabulary. Daily, Crystal can be heard saying, ‘What can I do to help’ and ‘What can I do to make this a great day for our students.’”

Sohl works closely with students who are blind and/or visually impaired and with additional disabilities. She provides academic supports and is key in providing social-emotional development for the students.

“Her compassion and integrity are evident in all that she does. Her dedication to providing personalized assistance ensures that all of the students she works with thrive and grow,” said Sinclair-Morris.

The award is given in honor of Teresa Perry, who served as executive secretary to the commissioner of education and worked for the state for more than 33 years. She was noted for providing outstanding customer service to those inside and outside the agency, always exhibiting compassion and providing positive inspiration for others.

The award is given annually in June to a KDE employee who exhibits the characteristics and professionalism Perry showed every day. The first three recipients were Janice Harris (2021), Monica Raines (2022) and Viembre Nicholson (2023).

“Although Teresa would say not to worry about recognizing her, she’d be so happy that we have used her name for an award that honors the hard work and compassion that so many people at KDE show on a daily basis,” said KDE Communications Director Jennifer Ginn.

In receiving the award, Sohl expressed her gratitude.

“Thank you all so much,” she said. “It is my honor to try to carry on Teresa’s memory.”

Sohl added, “It’s all about the kids.”

“In the ever-changing landscape of the day, Crystal demonstrates incredible flexibility and adaptability, always putting the needs of the students first and foremost,” said Sinclair-Morris. “She’s willing to step in and assist wherever needed, ensuring that transitions are smooth for the students.

Not only does Sohl provide support in the classroom, she also serves as a coach for track and cheerleading. Sinclair-Morris said Sohl dedicates countless hours outside of the academic day to “ensure the students have a positive and fun experience in sports.”

“Crystal encourages the students to do their best and serves as an excellent role model for the athletes,” she added.

“As we present this award, we are preserving the legacy of Teresa Perry,” said Interim Commissioner of Education Robin Fields Kinney. “Teresa would be proud that the recipient is someone so dedicated to assisting the students and staff and always with such a positive attitude. Congratulations Crystal, employees like you change lives.”