A Collection of Stories from the School Nurse

A Collection of Stories from the School Nurse

While this past year has been full of uncertainty and setbacks, you have continued to do what you have always done best: care for our nation’s youth by making their health and safety a top priority. In a year of forced split-second decision making, juggling day-to-day duties, and taking on more roles not only in your schools, but in your communities, you continue to amaze us with your hard work and dedication.

On behalf of all of us at School Health, we thank you for your essential role in supporting students’ mental, physical, and emotional health and putting them on a path to success. While School Nurse Day and National Nurses Week may be over, we continue to celebrate YOU all year long.

This year for National Nurses Week, we invited school nurses to help us shine a light on the positives and share a heart-warming or inspiring story. We received over six hundred entries containing stories of why you chose to become a school nurse, students and staff members who inspire you, colleagues you felt should be recognized, and more. In our efforts to spread the positivity, we wanted to share some of the stories we thought would be sure to bring a smile to your face.


Our winning entries:


Marcia says,

“I have been a school nurse for the past 23 years. I love caring for all the students, but I have a special relationship with the students with Type 1 Diabetes. I am their advocate while they are at school and help them manage their diabetes numerous times a day. I was especially inspired one year when I found out that two families had open enrolled into our small school district. Each family had a child with diabetes, and they had heard from others about the 'school nurse'. They came to my school district because other parents had bragged about the care their children received from me. I never expected people to open enroll into my district because of me. I am humbled and grateful to be able to help these students access education at a high standard.”  


Anelis says,

“Simply put I have the best of both worlds. I work at a Middle School and High School as a school nurse during the week and on weekends I work at Saint Francis Hospital all while having a family and two boys. No matter what may be going on in my personal life, going back to work has helped me both mentally and emotionally.”


Linda says,

“I have been an RN for 45 years and a school nurse for Twin Springs Elementary for the past 10 years.  This job has been the most rewarding and challenging of any job I have had. I absolutely love the children/students. I have grown so close to a lot of them and followed their success through high school.   I hurt when one of them hurt, and I cry and worry over ones that I know need help. They make me laugh everyday here at school. One day I had a little 1st grader come in complaining with his belly hurting. I did his vitals, checked him over and was asking a few questions. He was very serious answering me. I asked him if he had been to the bathroom that day and he said 'yes'. I asked him if he did #1 or #2. He said  'I did #2 but my poop melted!' I almost fell in the floor laughing. The girls in front office came to see what was going on that we were laughing so hard. When I told them they started laughing. My little fellow picked up on all the laughing and started laughing hard too. Then he suddenly jumped up holding himself and said 'OPPS! I think it melted again in my pants.' Everyone got really quiet and left so I could clean him up. This is just one of the things that have made me laugh while working with these children.   Stuff like this happens all the time. They are so honest with their words and actually I understand everything they come up with. I have a journal that I started when I started school nursing with stories like this. I can't ever see me doing anything else but school nursing.”


Shelly says,

“A lot of people think school nurses only give out medications and band aids, but school nursing goes beyond that.  A few months ago, one of my frequently seen students came in needing a band aid. Before my student returned to class, I noticed his shoes were untied and encouraged him to tie his shoestrings so he would not get tripped up and fall. He dropped his head and stated he did not know how to tie his shoestrings. I was shocked. A fourth grader did not know how to tie his shoestrings. He continued to say that his mother did not teach him and his great grandmother, with whom he still currently lives with, ties his shoes. I told him to sit down, and I pulled a chair up to sit with him. I asked him to give me his shoe. I placed his shoe in my lap and talked to him as I tied his shoe. I untied it, placed his shoe in his lap and instructed him to try. The first few times he could not get it. I took the shoe back and talked explaining again how to loop the strings and hold them. It clicked!! He was able to tie his shoe. He then untied his shoe, placed it back on his foot and then tied the shoestrings on both shoes. He smiled, stood up and stated thank you. The next morning, I received a call from his great grandmother. She was crying and told me thank you for taking the time to be a friend and not just a school nurse. She continued to say that when he arrived home after learning to tie his shoe, she stated the first thing he told her was, ‘Granny look what Miss Shelly taught me today.’ She said his eyes were glowing with pride that he could do something for himself. Needless to say, when one takes a few moments to go the extra mile we never know just how we might change a life with a small random act of kindness.”


Michelle says,

“After 8 years of working in a level one trauma ER, I had my son. When they say having a baby changes everything, well it is true! Once I had my son, every child I took care of was my own. This revelation lead me to school nursing; where else can I be around healthy and sometimes unfortunately sick kiddos? This career path has been the most rewarding because I see how important my work in school really is. It’s more than covering up boo boos and ice packs. It’s about the whole wellbeing of every single child in my school (mental health, socio-economic, physical, and health education). My job does not end with the students, it also includes my staff (principals, teachers, custodians, nutritional services etc). I love what I do.”


Amy says,

“I am an LPN at a school district in Northern MN. I chose to talk about a person who has helped me become the nurse that I am, and doing what I love. I started here as a substitute Nurse, and eventually got the opportunity to get a permanent position in 2009. I started at the elementary level and this is my first year working with grades 5-12. I am not good at interviewing and dislike being put in a position where I have to talk about myself, therefore, I did not interview well. However, the LSN at that time took a chance and hired me due to my experience. Her name is Karen. She has been the person who inspired me to become what I am as a nurse. She taught me skills, compassion, positivity, confidence and all the things you need not only in school nursing, but also a nursing career. She always had a smile on her face, the kids, and staff loved her. She did her job with such passion and loyalty always showing compassion and remaining positive and she always had a smile in doing so. She taught me knowledge and aspects of nursing that I would've never known. She mentored me and saw me through any difficult situation that arrived with a calmness that made any situation easier for all that may have involved. She was open and there for me to call with questions, concerns, or sometimes, frustrations. Karen retired 3 years ago and I miss her dearly here at work. Nobody could replace her and her ways. I know she is enjoying her retirement with her hobbies: hiking, skiing, swimming, loving on her kids and grandchildren, relaxing, and enjoying her life even more. I will never forget the impact she had on me and how much she influenced me. I use the skill she helped build in me and use them every day on and off the job. Karen is the type of nurse who I would want to care for my kids, my parents, or myself. She is truly one amazing nurse and one amazing person.”


Guylaine says,

“When it was time to pick our clinicals, we had the option of doing Public Health instead. I had reflected a lot on how poverty and social economics affect health ,and that was nearly 37 years ago. I chose public health and did part of the 3 months in a low income school in Quebec city, Canada. I felt it was my calling then, working with families and students. I remembered checking everyone’s ear drums; designing a plan for a little guy who had weight issues, meeting his family in his home and getting his parents on board. Although I went on to work in hospital, I came back to school nursing after my own children were in school. It had taught me so much, and the bonds with the staff and families are everlasting. Kids still come to me years after to say hi!”



More heartwarming and inspiring stories from our collection of story submissions:


Denise says,

“I had stepped out of the health office and while I was out, a kindergartner came to see me for a complaint of a headache. The secretary told the little one to get an icepack from the freezer in my office.  Icepacks are the cure-all for this age group! As I was walking back into my office, the little one was exiting and holding my frozen dinner to his forehead. ‘Nurse Denise, I had a headache so got an icepack!' My heart was full at that very moment.”


Andria says,

“With everything that children face today, I feel extremely blessed to be a school nurse. Everyday can be a new challenge for a child and many of times all a child needs is a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on. Advocating for students is a great honor and the most rewarding. I cannot imagine leaving this position because every day I see how appreciative the kids are with whatever little help I can offer.”


Cheryl says,

“Today, a second-grade teacher in my building not only made a homemade treat for me to thank me and recognize School Nurse Day, but she encouraged each of her students to create a 'card' for me. She then brought them to the health room and had each child hand me the 'card' they had made. It gave me goose bumps and brought tears to my eyes. Each child had created a picture of a school nurse with words of thanks and encouragement written on it. The comments ranged from thank you for giving us band aids to thank you for keeping us safe. This has been an extremely difficult year for all of us, especially my students and staff, and especially since we have been in the building in person since August 2020. The mitigation measures that everyone has had to implement and endure have been incredibly taxing. The gesture of this teacher and her students reminded me of how much I appreciate each of them and how much we can accomplish when we work as a team. Our building has not had to close at all this year due to Covid. We are very proud of that fact!”


Sarah says,

“As I sit at my desk in the elementary health office where I have worked nearly 24 years, I look at ‘thank yous’ that I have received this school year. One is from a student who I assisted with an anxiety attack, some are from students who needed help with clothing or fundraising so they could go to camp this summer. One is from a staff member who needed my help during a seizure. A parent sent a thank you to me for keeping our school a safe place after I worked most of a Sunday doing Covid contact tracing.  Another was from a student and her mother thanking me for spending some time conversing with the student while she ate in my office during a stressful time. School nursing is a challenge in its own way.  School nurses are often the only medical person in their buildings and are faced with many decisions daily. We deal with students and staff that have varied physical and mental health issues; some as simple as a skinned knee and others as complex as assessing a post heart transplant student. We are on the frontlines and must be knowledgeable and compassionate. Some days are extremely stressful. The ‘thank yous’ I receive keep me going and help me realize that I am making a difference.  School nursing is more than band aids!  It is being persistent when a child is having headaches, until their parent follows through and a brain tumor is found. It is educating staff and students about seizure disorders, artificial eyes, diabetes mellitus, EpiPen’s and anaphylaxis. It is giving and receiving smiles as you go down the hall and greet students by name. It is tube feedings, medication administration, and catheterizations so a student can be in school. It is hearing, 'you are an amazing nurse and now I know I am going to have a great school year'. I would encourage any nurse to enter the school nursing field.  It is challenging, but so rewarding.”


Courtney says,

“This year, for Black History Month, I decided to make a bulletin board titled 'Black History Month: Name that Nurse'. The board highlighted multiple African American nurses, even going as far back as Harriet Tubman. I had no idea that she had practiced as a nurse! I included a picture of each nurse with an excerpt summarizing some of their contributions to healthcare. Being an African American nurse myself, and knowing how much of a minority we are in the nursing field (only 9.9% of nurses are African American), it is extremely important for me to try and change that. I displayed the board outside of my office, which is a high traffic area, went over it with some students as they passed, and even was a guest in a classroom to teach on the topic. My school does not have a very large population of African American students, but I had multiple come to me after, telling me that they want to be a nurse, too. This is the greatest part of my job as a school nurse, to be able to reach and inspire our future generation. I pray that I am a role model to these students, and that one day people of color will no longer be such a minority in the nursing field.”


Krista says,

“I am a middle school nurse; it's been a very tough year. Today I was called into a classroom and the class all thanked me for being a nurse and gave me a handwritten note. Money cannot buy that kind of gratitude. So thankful for wonderful teachers and students but so ready for summer!”


Kelly says,

“I would like to nominate my coworker Megan Thompson. She stepped into the role as school nurse recently and does an amazing job! She puts her students’ safety and needs as her utmost priority. She is so patient, kind, loving and knowledgeable. Her students love and appreciate her. She has worked incredibly hard to learn the ins and outs of school nursing and works hard to improve the school nursing process. I work side by side with her and she encourages me to be my best nurse.  I nominate her for this award because she is a bright shining light for our school and deserves to be recognized.” 


Irlean says,

“I became a nurse to honor my mother who passed away of a malignant brain cancer after surgery and left eight children ranging from age 11 months old to 17 years old. I was left to take care of six children and i was only sixteen years old. I believed that if i became a nurse that I could make a difference in patient's lives. As I look back on over 52 years of nursing, I believe and know in my heart that I have made a big difference in many many patient's lives. God has truly blessed me in allowing me to honor my mother and to be a part of the nursing profession which is the finest of arts.”


Linda says,

“There are so many stories over the past 17 years as a school nurse. I wish I would have wrote them down as they happened. Like any job there are good and bad reflections. My most special yearly times are seeing the high school seniors graduate. Working in a smaller district, I see students from preschool all the way through high school. Most staff do not continue with the students their entire school career. I flash back continually when I attend graduation each year. That is my most special moment to have gone through all these years with students from start to finish. Oh so many memories!”


Patti says,

“I had been working from home this year as the district COVID Coordinator so had not been in the buildings to see the kids that I would routinely see other years. I had to go in and do some training in our special education/DCD room and when I walked in, one of the kids came up and hugged me and said 'I missed you'. Not only did that bring tears to my eyes from that one student, but just seeing the other special education/DCD students and their smiles and fist bumps made me not only miss them but miss my 'normal' job and being in the buildings and working directly with these kids. I work with all kids but there is something a little more inspiring and uplifting with this group of kids...they are an inspiration!”


Sheena says,

“I work in an ESE school in Florida. Our students range in age from 3 years old to 22. Each day brings a new experience and a need to improvise and create ways to get the job done. After I get my students off the bus, I start with feedings, changes, walking, and all the other little jobs that come up. I work mostly one on one with my students. We have many unique issues at an ESE school which makes each day a challenge, but it is such a joy to share each students’ accomplishments with them. I plan on being here for many more years.”


Masha says,

“Gosh there are too many funnies to share. As school nurses we see and hear so much on the daily. I have been a school nurse the past 7 years and enjoy it every bit. Folks that do not work with children, truly do not have an understanding for them. Yes, you may have kids of your own, but being able to help, shine a light, brighten a future, hug, love on, or just make a child smile makes it all worth it. I wish you all a Happy Nurse's Week and thank you for what you do to help keep all our children healthy and happy.”


Diane says,

“Thank you for the privilege of sharing All Saints Catholic Academy's success story about our incredible school nurse Mrs. Susan Fuller! Mrs. Fuller is a super hero to all of us at ASCA . She brings to us her expertise as a medical professional, knowledge and planning skills in assisting our Administrative team in setting up our school re-opening last August, and empowering our daily COVID-19 protocols and compliance regimen making it possible for All Saints Catholic Academy to stay in school, five full days a week, and in person for the past 160 days. She makes important decisions every day to care for each and every student and staff member of our school. Her priority is the safety, health, and wellbeing of everyone at ASCA and she has, once again, stepped up and cared for our school like a true super hero.  ASCA loves and appreciates Mrs. Fuller and we have had a successful, healthy, learning experience this entire school year because of her.”


Shelly says,

“School Nursing is one of the most under rated jobs I've ever worked...but it is the most rewarding job I have ever worked! With the last year of unknowns, the school nurses in our district have banded together and worked relentlessly to get kids back to the classroom. Extra hours of quarantining staff and students, lots of tears from frustrated or scared parents with so many unknowns. We did not back down to the challenge. We met the Covid challenge head on with courage and determination to be the Best School Nurses we could be! I have 22 amazing collogues that I now consider friends that I am proud to work with in my District. So with all the negative impacts that Covid created, I'm very thankful that a positive work relationship with all these amazing nurses came out it!”


MaryAnne says,

“I became a school nurse 13 years ago after I was speaking with the school nurse at my children's school. There was a need for substitute nurses and she asked me to fill in. Once I started, I found I really loved working with school age children! I had yet to work with children in my career to date and found them to be fun, engaging, curious and wonderful! So much has changed over the years as a school nurse. I always hope to show and provide, hope, love and inspiration every day. I have found joy in this career that is so diverse and at times difficult. Being a nurse is meaningful and to be fortunate enough to work with children has been a blessing I have cherished. I thank the nurse who asked me to join the ranks of school nurses everywhere!”


Kimberly says,

“Almost thirteen years ago I received a call from a parent of a student in my sons class asking me if I would be the school nurse for her son. Honored, but informed her that I was still employed at the hospital and was not aware of an opening. She began telling me that her son was just diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and she had witnessed the way I care for my patients at the hospital. She stated she her son would be safe at school in my hands. As a result of her wishes I applied and got the job and have not looked back! Nothing is more rewarding than knowing you were able to help a student with their health needs and allow them to remain safe at school!”


Janice says,

“I became a school nurse so I could be on the same schedule as my own children. Well, I'm hooked and have been one for 21 years now! There are lots of stories that stand out, but one stands out to me. When I first started, I had a special needs boy that needed a liver transplant. He was 5 or 6 years old and lots of days I just held him because he was so weak and tired. His parents were very supportive and always tried to push him to be his best. He could only make partial days most days and he would come crawl up in my lap and wait for dad to come. Well finally he got a liver and made awesome progress. I gave him a small stuffed bear when he had surgery (I really had forgotten about it). I saw his mom a few weeks ago and asked about him. His is now 22 or 23 and doing great. She told me that he still sleeps with that bear. Tears came to my eyes. To think just a small gesture can make a difference in a life. My name is Janice and the kids at school call me Nurse Janice. But, he being special needs and very young when we met called me ‘Jurse Nanice’. He still calls me that and so do his former teachers, paras, and his family. I was able to attend his transplant party and still see him occasionally. But I never knew about the bear until now. You just never know the impact you can have on a child. It only takes a few minutes to let them know they can do it and they have your support. His contagious joy and enthusiasm blessed me more than he will ever know. Kids need to know their school nurse has their back.”


Kelly says,

“This is my first year as a school nurse. After working in a hospital and being on a COVID floor for 8 months, I decided I wanted to take my covid skills and apply it to school nursing. School nursing made me remember why I loved being a nurse in the first place. A school nurse is someone who gives comfort in all ways during the school day, and the impact is truly felt. COVID came and changed the way we look at nurses today, and I am so grateful I can be a part of children’s’ lives when they need it the most. Happy Nurse's Day to all my amazing nurse colleagues! You are all amazing, wonderful people!”


Christine says,

“Hugs from Mrs. Sheils! Over the years I have been known to crochet aghans. My students start in K and then go through until Grade Four. Many have special places in my heart and before they leave I found out their favorite color. I work to complete the blanket before the end of the school. I am not really sure how many I have made and given away but I do know that with each blanket comes one of my hugs.”


Angela says,

“We had a family move to our district from another country very close to the holiday season. They spoke little to no English and were living in tight quarters with family. The child came to school every day excited and wanting to learn, never complaining about his less than ideal living conditions. During the holidays, I, with the generous help of staff and community, organize a clothing and toy drive. We sent home gift cards to this child's family. After the break we received a hand written note thanking us for changing the child's and family's holiday completely. They thanked us and said that the unexpected gift brought joy and comfort beyond their expectations. I felt extra pride in my staff and community that day. We changed his life in ways we may never know.”


Thank You School Nurses! 


Posted in School Health