Doherty returns to Algonquin with experience, enthusiasm


Jadyn Jacobs

Special education teacher Lisa Doherty enjoys watching the progress her students make.

Jadyn Jacobs, Photo Editor

After two years at another district, special education teacher Lisa Doherty has returned to Algonquin and is excited to help her students form relationships with their peers while working on community and vocational skills.

Doherty first worked at Algonquin when she was part of the New England Center for Children (NECC), which has a location at ARHS and works with students with autism and other related disabilities. After ten years at Algonquin, she left NECC to work at Armstrong Elementary School in Westborough as a special education teacher and behavior specialist. Then, when a teaching position opened at Algonquin, she jumped at the opportunity.

While working at the NECC, Doherty learned about patience and understanding.

“[I learned] appreciation for different learning styles and understanding of different family situations and different needs,” Doherty said. “ I wasn’t familiar with Applied Behavior Analysis before I worked there. I’d actually never even heard of it, so I learned a lot about ABA. I just really [learned] how to break skills down, how to teach new skills, different ways to prompt students and teach them the skills that they were working on.” 

Doherty continues to use what she learned at NECC in her teaching today. 

“I use so many of the things that I learned every single day just thinking about how I work with the students and how I interact with families,” Doherty said. “Of course, we use a lot of Applied Behavior Analysis in the programming that we use with some of the students, and I’m still learning things every day.” 

Doherty left her position in the NECC residential program to transition into a public school setting. 

“I had learned so much, and I was ready to take some of the things that I had learned and try to practice it in a public school setting without the support of NECC necessarily,” Doherty said. 

Doherty did have a bit of a transition from her work at NECC to her new position at Armstrong Elementary. While working there, she served in two roles due to her dual certification as a special education teacher and behavior specialist.

“[I was] a special ed teacher, and then my second year, I was a little bit more in a BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) role,” Doherty said. “That was a little bit of a learning curve because I had never actually worked in that capacity; I had always been a teacher.” 

Doherty loves both elementary and high school students but said she especially enjoyed elementary students’ curiosity about the world, people and learning in general. 

Doherty also liked “being able to start promoting inclusive practices at a young age and acceptance for everybody.” 

Speech Therapist Lisa Pagan worked with Doherty for years when she was previously at ARHS and is excited to be her colleague again.

“She brings an energy to the school and to her classroom that is just explosive,” Pagan said. “She is really on the ball, she has great ideas and she follows through on them.” 

Pagan appreciates how fun yet professional Doherty is.

“She’s just very prepared for things, and because of her preparation, in turn, I’m more prepared for things,” Pagan said. “Whenever we go into meetings together, I feel like she’s just a great person to have on your team. She’ll back you up. She’s just very organized and prepared.” 

Pagan appreciates how compassionate Doherty is with the special education students.

“She’s so caring with the students,” Pagan said. “She really has made a connection with each and every student, and she just gets them. She’s patient. Her behavior background gives her that little bit of extra knowledge in terms of managing all the various students that we have. We have quite an array of students, and they have quite an array of needs, challenges and skills. She’s able to sort of meet all of their needs at once, which is amazing.” 

Outside of teaching, Doherty loves going to gym, but says she has a love-hate relationship with running. She also loves baking and spending time with family and her husband. Prior to COVID-19, Doherty started to do a little bit of traveling, and she looks forward to getting back to it after the pandemic subsides.

Doherty likes seeing the progress students make and the skills they are able to gain. 

“Something that’s really cool is seeing the relationships that the students develop with their peers, teachers, and just the bonds that are developed,” Doherty said.