And interview with an exemplary educator.
What do you do in BSD?
I’m a school nurse. At first, I was supervising, spending two days a week visiting the other schools which didn’t have nurses. I’d check on the aides at the other schools and I also managed and took care of medical issues for Early Education. Now I’m the school nurse at the Integrated Arts Academy and the lead nurse for the district which means that I’m the point person if nurses have any questions.
How long have you worked for BSD? In the field of education?
I’ve been a school nurse in the district for 15 years. Before that, I worked in Winooski and at Saint Francis for 6 years. Before that, I was a medical surgical nurse at Fanny Allen for many years.
What made you want to do this job? When did you know you wanted to do this job?
A school nurse. It’s always been in the back of my mind. When I was at Saint Francis, I was working in a different capacity. They didn’t have a school nurse, so I often ended up stepping in to help, volunteering at first. The same thing happened in BSD. The job I have now is the best job I’ve ever had.
What do you like best about being a school nurse?
Being able to see the results of my interventions. You get to see the long term growth of the kids as opposed to any other job where you see them once and then they’re gone. Continuity of patient care is really rewarding. And the kids they’re so cute. I also like the independence, being the only nurse, having to make the calls myself, and I like that. There’s definitely more variety in school nursing and the kids come up with the darndest things. No day is ever the same.
Tell us about one success you’ve had in school nursing. What is one proud moment?
I had a child who had lost weight over the summer. The kid went to the doctor, but the doctor wasn’t concerned. Some time later, I attended a team meeting for the child. During the meeting, I figured out by what the parent said that the child had diabetes. Because I had recorded weights for the child (a practice which is not required by the state), I had evidence of the child’s pattern of weight loss. So he ended up getting diagnosed without having to go to the emergency room which is how kids usually get diagnosed with diabetes. At that meeting, no one else would have realized what the symptoms meant. My years of watching the child grow and monitoring that growth put me in a unique position to make a really important nursing assessment.
What would kids say they had learned from you?
Basic health care. I had one kid who came in with a friend who needed help. The kid came into my office and got everything ready for his friend, directing him on exactly what to do. When I asked the kid how he knew what to do, he said he’d learned it from me!
What is one thing that people don’t generally know about you?
I was an army nurse for three years. In the military it’s totally different.
What do you do outside of school?
I spend time at home with my husband. And now I have two grandchildren. I keep up on developments in school nursing by reading. For more than 15 years, I’ve been on the board of the Vermont State School Nurses Association.
How do your friends describe you?
Friendly, caring, a great sense of humor.
What other jobs have you had?
I was a daycare director for two years. I used to make maple sugar candies. I did a lot of billing paperwork for my dad’s business. I also worked at a nursing home for nuns.
What are some of your favorite things?
I like chocolate. I’m a chocoholic. I also like traveling. My favorite color is blue.
What’s one thing you would like to see happen to make Burlington Schools a better place for students to learn?
I would like the district to have a nurse coach who would provide mentoring and support for school nurses, because school nursing is a specialty practice that you don’t learn anywhere else but on the job.