School Health

National Nurses' Week 2023 Wrap Up


Our team at School Health is inspired by school nurses like you every day! Thank you for your passion for school nursing and for keeping students healthy and safe.

We love celebrating school nurses like you on National Nurses Week and School Nurse Day. We know that the demands and responsibilities of nurses have drastically changed, but we are continually inspired by your resilience, perseverance, and dedication to your students.

For National Nurses Week, we asked you to share moments that make you love what you do. Below are just some of the answers we received!

I would have to say that working with the kids day in and day out keeps me passionate about my job.  I find it very rewarding and fulfilling. Hearing about their day, sharing their joys, and helping them through their hard times is satisfying. Each day is different, which I love! Sometimes the kids just come to say hello and other times it is because they are sick or injured. You never know what is going to happen.  One time I had a student who needed a winter coat. When I gave it to her, she hugged me and thanked me. I wanted to cry because our storage area became a blessing to someone who really needed it. It was at that moment that I realized that school nursing was a huge opportunity to minister not only to the kids, but also to the community. It was more about taking care of their health. School nursing takes care of the whole child. I am thankful for that lesson. – Tonya B.

I have been at the same school for 18 years. It's so cute when they bring me random gifts or just come to get a hug. Many of my current students are the children of my former students. It is such a joy to see them growing up and going out into the world. – Kelly M.

I have spent my school nursing career at the same elementary school for the past 30 years. I am now taking care of the children of my former students. It is great fun to share stories of students’ parents with these students. I love mentoring my former students when they choose nursing and medicine as a career by providing shadowing experiences in my clinic. My most rewarding days as a school nurse are the ones when I facilitate a newly diagnosed T1D kiddo getting back to school. These students and their families depend on the school nurse, and it is a pleasure to provide this support. – Jeanne A. 

I have been a school nurse for six years. They have been some of the hardest and most rewarding years that I have worked in the nursing profession. I work primarily at a middle school, which I believe is the most challenging time in kids’ lives. Every day we struggle with kids trying to find themselves and fit in to whichever area of life they are drawn to. Kids want to be accepted, want to be loved, and want to be part of something. This process is exhausting, especially for kids that come with more emotional, social, and physical baggage. Every morning, I try to remember that kids are the way they are because someone made them this way, and that we as nurses, teachers, educators, need to be patient, caring, and kind. I try to build trusting relationships with my students and communicate openly and honestly with them. It is so important to empower this age group to advocate for themselves and help them understand how important it is for them to be a part of their solution and problem solving. They need tools to get through life, and if I can add to their toolbox, I want to do this. I love my job and am thankful every day that I get to work with students and, hopefully, help them be successful in their lives. – Jennifer M.

What keeps me passionate about school nursing? I Love my role in EDUCATING THE STUDENTS!! – Stacy C. 

I have been a school nurse for seven years, and I couldn't ask for a better job. I love the kids. I work in a smaller district from grades K-12, so I am the only nurse. You never know what each day will bring. Some days are a challenge being the only nurse. No one to collaborate with, but the environment in a school is great. Everyone that works in a school setting has a passion for the kids. – Molly T.

At School Health, we understand the role that school nurses play in their schools and communities. Our team is here to support you, so that you can provide the best care for your students and help them succeed in school and beyond. Thanks for everything you do!

Period Equity in Schools


For a young adult, there’s arguably almost nothing worse than getting an unexpected period – especially at school. Often, there’s some embarrassment that follows. The student might have to ask to be excused from class, go talk to the school nurse for a pad or tampon, or maybe they already bled through their clothes.

Period equity has become a hot topic both in and out of schools. As a matter of fact, many states are considering or have already passed laws that require schools or public spaces to provide free access to menstrual products.

One study showed that 23 percent of students have struggled to afford period products. Many have also experienced some form of period poverty, the term that’s used to describe a lack of access to menstrual products. Some even had to wear menstruation products longer than the recommended time because they could not afford to buy more. The same study also found that 70 percent of students felt like the environment at school made them feel self-conscious about having their period.

A lack of access to menstruation products in school can also lead to learning loss. The study found that four in five menstruating students said they either missed class or knew someone who missed class because they didn’t have access to pads or tampons when they needed them.

So, what can schools do to help?

Ensuring that students have easy access to menstrual products when they need them is key. Make sure that they are in more places than just the school nurse’s office, or the building’s front office. Place them in multiple bathrooms around the building and let students know where they can be found. Not only does this provide quicker access for the student, but it’s also more discreet because they won’t have to walk across the building or campus, while bleeding, in order to get what they need.

Recently, some nurses and educators have created “menstruation stations,” or kits to keep in their offices, classroom, or bathroom.

 Here are some tips on how to put your own together:

  • Provide both pads and tampons so the student has a choice.
  • Include baby wipes for easier and more hygienic clean up.
  • For students in middle school, it may be helpful to provide some age appropriate information to help them understand what a period is if it’s their first time.
  • Let students know to whom they can go to get ibuprofen or similar pain relievers.
  • Let students know who they can reach out to if the menstruation station needs to be restocked.
  • Ensure that students of all genders have equal access to kits, supplies, and menstruation stations.

If you do create a menstruation station, it is important to let your students know that they exist in the building and that they can use them when they need them. Period equity will have a positive snowball effect. It can mean more socioeconomic equity for those who come from disadvantaged or low-income communities. It can mean that the stigma surrounding having a period, or even talking about it, will eventually go away. It can also mean that young people with periods will miss less class time because they have easier access to the products they need.

Interested in creating a menstruation station in your building, and making sure that your students have access to the hygiene products they need? Connect with your School Health representative or contact us to get started!


Additional Information

Access Angle: One Spoonful of Independence at a Time

Gabriel Ryan, School Health Blog Writer and Contributor 


One Spoonful of Independence at a Time

Adaptive eating utensils are designed to assist people with limited arm, hand, and finger mobility or difficulty with fine motor skills to feed themselves as independently as possible. What makes these utensils different than typical silverware is that the handles may be larger or have more of a grip, they may be weighted, made from bendable material, or they could also have straps or attach to a glove, and some are even automated! There are a variety of options of these types of utensils which are sold mostly through rehabilitation or medical supply companies.


Occupational therapists, feeding specialists, hand therapists and others can be very helpful to assist with figuring out the best option to try. It can take a while to find the most user friendly utensil. The only way to know what will work is to try a variety of utensils and see what feels the most comfortable.


I’ve started exploring adaptive utensils from a very young age. I have difficulty with hand grip and grasp, arm and hand mobility, and simply coordinating the process of eating especially if it involves using a fork or spoon. Finding an adapted eating utensil which I can consistently and independently use, took a little over 20 years!  


Here are some of the utensils I’ve tried over the years and a few thoughts on them.


The Maroon Spoons feature a shallow small spoon bowl so I didn’t end up with too much food in my mouth. These also helped with working on lip closure.


I moved on to trying spoons that had an angle such as the Easie Eaters Curved Utensils. These were still small and lightweight, but having the curve allowed me to bring the food from the food dish, directly to my mouth versus trying to turn my wrist or neck, which was difficult for me to do all at the same time.


I also explored utensils with built up handles, similar to the Good Grips Bendable Coated Spoons and Good Grips Adaptive Utensils. These types offered a much more stable handgrip especially as I got older and my hands grew larger. This non-slip material and larger grip were easier for my fingers to wrap around and control the utensil.


I was able to check out eating aides that wrap around the hand as an alternate to spoons that require a grip, such as the Utensil Holder Hand Clip or that have a Velcro attachment like the Universal Cuff Utensil Holder. These were helpful tools since eating can be a lot of hard work when it is physically difficult. Not having to worry about gripping the spoon or having it fall out of my hand allowed me to focus on the other steps involved in eating.


Over time, what became more difficult for me was keeping the spoon balanced in order to keep the food on the utensil. I tried a few options that have features to address this issue. The Plastic Handle Swivel Utensil which has a special swivel designed to keep food from spilling when turned at any angle. Also, the Steady Spoon which has the built-up handgrip, hook and loop strap, and an active counter balance/weight that keeps the head of the spoon in a level position.


Learn more about adaptive feeding utensils mentioned in this blog by visiting the School Health website. If you are looking for a teachable, robotic feeding device, check out the Obi Robotic Feeding Device. The Obi accommodates a spectrum of people who have difficulty feeding themselves. It works by automating the motion of a human arm and becomes an extension of the diner, allowing them to select the food of their choice and dictating the pace at which the food is fed to them.


It may be a quick find or a long journey to discover what will work best for each individual exploring adaptive utensils. Take your time and be patient with yourself, or those you may be supporting. Try and try again or maybe design something, there is certainly a continued need for more flexible options. Once I found the right utensil for me, I was able to feed myself my own dinner, and the next morning another first, I ate a bowl of cereal, by myself…. one spoonful of independence at a time!



Staff Wellness: Creating a Healthy Balance to Best Support Students and Our Staff Members

By Dr. Raymond Heipp

Staff Wellness: Creating a Healthy Balance to Best Support Students and Our Staff Members

We continue to hear about the issues students are currently facing as they navigate this world and all that is and has happened. Their anxiety levels are still at all-time highs as we continue to experience health concerns as well as a wide range of global concerns on top of that. Unfortunately, students are also continually bombarded with polarizing news reports which augment this anxiety. As faculty and staff members, we are charged with assisting the students through these trying times. But what is being done for us as staff?

I am honored to be working with Connie Morris on the Pillars Initiative which focuses on creating pillars of support for our school staff. This initiative has also brought me into a heightened awareness of what is currently being done in our schools and the diverse range of approaches that have led to both positive and less than positive outcomes for the adults in those communities. As a former administrator, I recognize the need to make sure that our students have the best support we can give them. I also recognize that the foundation for that support must come from a balanced approach where staff members also have the same type of access to mental health and wellness support.

I feel as though I should begin the next few paragraphs with “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” but that has already been used. Still, we do see a tale of two approaches in our school communities. Let me begin with the “worst of times” example as we need to see that there is a way of changing that narrative as we move forward. 

In one of my recent journeys, I came into contact with a school culture where the emphasis on wellness is completely on the students. There is nothing wrong with having the students as that centerpiece, but it was how they were doing it that brought me concern. I was there to help with the creation of a sensory room which they were excited to bring to the students. We were speaking about the needs of the various groups of students at the school when I asked how they might also see this being used by the faculty. At this point, the administration explained to me that this was for the students only. Throughout the visit, I also met with teachers and therapists to get their insights on the needs of the room. They all seemed very tired and lackluster. I found out, from those who were comfortable enough to share, that the reporting, lesson planning, and amount of meetings had increased with the amount of down time given to the teachers during the day almost eliminated. They still had their lunch and planning periods but were expected to meet with students during those times daily. The faculty felt brow-beaten and not supported and several of the younger teachers shared that they were thinking of leaving the profession as it was just too much. This lack of balance eventually create a community where even the students become completely overwhelmed as the teachers are already exhibiting signs of exhaustion while expending all of their energy on the students with no energy being given to themselves. This is not a viable plan!

Ironically, I began virtually meeting with another school a day later with plans to visit there in person. It was a unified committee of an administrator, a teacher, a therapist, the school nurse, and a parent. This group was extremely positive and worked so well together. The administrator explained that they wanted the room but also wanted ideas on how to create a sensory space for the staff. The parent joked that they wanted a room for the parents too and everyone laughed! I had the opportunity to have a follow-up call with a group of teachers who were so positive and kept referring to what they were actually doing for themselves as the basis for what they could do with the students. I learned that the administration had begun providing them with additional time during the school day for “decompression” and had brought yoga and exercise programs to the school for use by the staff. They also had instituted “chair massage days” that occurred on a monthly basis for the staff as part of this program. The positive feeling that I perceived through these virtual meetings was powerful and completely opposite of what I felt with the other school. This feeling demonstrates the balance in approach being used by this school. Think about it this way, if the farmer is sick, then the crops cannot be properly cared for on a regular basis.

So how can we work to achieve that balance? Start with simple things! Is there a faculty or staff members who are also yoga trainers or who might lead a group in running/walking during free time? Even if one does not have a yoga instructor on staff, can something simple like sets of Pose Cards or Breath Cards be shared with the staff for their own use? Is there a way to rotate staff members so that everyone in the building can have a 15 minute break for “decompression?” Instead of creating sensory rooms, as some buildings may have limited areas for this type of use, can we create sensory spaces in classrooms, faculty rooms, and even offices? A beanbag chair, vibrating pillow, fiber-optic lamp, or bubble wall can add to the area and create a safe haven within the room. All of these are simple steps that one can begin to create that solid wellness foundation for the staff. This balance is like the adage of building your house on a solid foundation as opposed to starting from an imbalance and building on a foundation of sand.

Please let me know how I can assist you in building your foundation on the solid ground of balanced wellness!


Access Angle: OrCam Read Handheld Reading Device

Gabriel Ryan, School Health Blog Writer and Contributor 

The Orcam Read Handheld Reading Device

If you have difficulty reading text, never fear, the OrCam Read is here! The OrCam Read is a smart pen that converts text from any printed surface or digital screen into audio. This device is for people with low vision, reading fatigue, reading difficulties, including dyslexia, and for anyone who would prefer to listen to the text. This small portable assistive reading device uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Optical Character Recognition (OCR).

 Key features of this product include:

  • Handheld reader about the size of a marker at 4.8” x 0.98” x 0.51”, 1.55 oz
  • Easy to use for either right or left hand users.
  • Reads text from any printed surface like magazines or books and digital screens such as a computer.
  • Bluetooth enabled allowing pairing with earphones or speakers.
  • Adjustable user settings, such as volume, reading speed, and choice of voice.
  • Bright LED light for dimly lit environments.
  • Two lasers to capture the full page or a specific block of text with the press of a button.
  • Artificial Intelligence, 13 megapixel sensor to capture fine details such as fine print.
  • Four physical tactile buttons; power, volume up, volume down, and the trigger button
  • “Smart Reading” - simply ask and listen. Retrieve and read only the text that interests you.

One of the newest features of OrCam Read is that it can be activated with voice commands by saying “Hey OrCam” followed by the command. Now, let’s talk about what is in the box! Inside you'll receive the OrCam Read device, User Guide, charger box, wired earphones, cleaning cloth, and lanyard.

The Dr. Phil show featured the OrCam Read with special guest, Schools Health’s very own Dr. Ray Heipp. Dr. Ray also created a few informational videos about the OrCam Read, such as this one, Talkin’ Tech: OrCam Read Handheld Reading Device. You can visit the School Health website to learn more about this product and to purchase the OrCam Read. Plus, for a limited time, you can try the OrCam Read for FREE! Check out this link to register for a two-week trial. 

A Fitness Focus: The First Step to Get Started is to START

Gabriel Ryan,

School Health Blog Writer and Contributor


A Fitness Focus: The First Step to Get Started is to START

The new year often brings new fitness goals for people of all ages. People tend to create fitness goals for a variety of reasons. Many popular reasons include a focus on losing weight, gaining weight, increasing muscle mass or flexibility, taking on a new hobby, creating a change in lifestyle or routine, and so many more. Getting started and maintaining motivation can be hard and often, the grand fitness plan fails before it even gets started. There are so many reasons that just getting going can be difficult, depending on an individual’s situation. This includes not knowing the “why” behind an individuals’ fitness goals in the first place, setting too many goals at once, setting unrealistic expectations, relying on fitness equipment one may not have access too, not having the social/emotional/mental support to accomplish the goals, caving in to the not-so-healthy favorite snack too often, etc.. In this fitness-focused Access Angle segment, I’ve included a few resources full of ideas to learn more about fitness and creating realistic goals for yourself, your children, or those whom you provide support and services to.


The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition provides evidence-based guidance to help maintain or improve health through physical activity. This 2018 guide includes suggestions for all and specifically includes information for people with disabilities. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 provides advice on what to eat and drink to meet nutritional needs, promote health, and help prevent chronic disease. This guide includes suggestions for infants through older adults.


There are several websites with sections dedicated to promoting a healthy lifestyle for people with disabilities, here are a few examples:

One of my fitness goals this year is to increase my activity level with Cardio Drumming. This activity involves aerobic movements with the beat of a drum using just an exercise ball and drumsticks. I use a small 12-inch exercise ball with a set of lightweight drumsticks. Having a square of non-skid material under the ball and placed into a bowl helps to keep it stable. I also use my trusty GRIP Activity Pad. This is one of my favorite activities, I love the energy and music! Exercise bands are also another favorite of mine. Check out this Access Angle post related to exercise bands, Stretch Yourself to the Limit: CanDo Muti-Grip Exerciser.

School Health has numerous fitness resources and supports. Browse through the School Health website under categories such as Sports Medicine, Special Education, Early Childhood, and Physical Education to find products and ideas to support a variety of fitness goals. You’ll find fitness related products such as Exercise Buddy Pro which incorporates evidence-based practices to create success for individuals in the classroom: technology aided instruction and intervention, visual supports, video modeling, social narratives, and positive reinforcement for all individuals no matter their age, motor skills, or cognitive ability. You can also learn more about software and equipment with Focused Fitness and Palos Sports.

Focused Fitness offers unique curricula, instructional materials, professional development and software. The programs include Five for Life®, FAB 5®, WELNET® and Health READY®. WELNET® software provides the ability to collect and report student data related to fitness and health. Not only do these programs help kids stay active, but they also aim to teach key concepts like managing fitness, how fitness relates to overall health, and the role of good nutrition. Visit the website or contact a representative to learn more about how these programs can be adapted for students you serve.

Palos Sports supplies physical educators, fitness professionals, coaches and recreation directors with a variety of innovative sports and fitness equipment, activities and knowledge that will make their programs both impacting and successful. Their website includes an Adapted Physical Education section highlighting some adapted products which are great for all to use. Free resources for PE teachers or those looking for some innovative ideas, check out PE with Palos.

One important thing to incorporate as part of your fitness goals is hydration! I’ve shared in previous posts about the Giraffe Bottle Handsfree Drinking System which I use. No matter how you hydrate, keep in mind you may need to increase your intake as you increase your activity.


The first step to get started, is to START!


“You’ve got to figure out how to use what you’ve got to maximize your potential,

which in a way, is the story of all of us.” ~Unknown Author

Celebrating 100 Years of the Council for Exceptional Children

by Dr. Raymond Heipp


The year 1922 brought two national treasures into existence. The first was Betty White. May she now rest in peace. The second was the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) which is celebrating its 100th year as an organization. The celebration takes place in Orlando from January 16-19 at the CEC Conference. While it may be something to celebrate, the impact of the CEC goes well beyond just their annual conference.

During the summer of 1922, a group of twelve educators attending courses at the Teacher’s College of Columbia University came together to form the International Council for the Education of Exceptional Children. Elizabeth Farrell, aside from being a founder, was its first president. I highly recommend you purchasing a copy of Elizabeth Farrell and the History of Special Education, 2nd Edition from CEC. In this inspirational story, you’ll learn how Elizabeth Farrell devoted her life to making a difference in the lived on children in public schools. Not only did she begin the idea of teaching “ungraded” classes for students who had difficulties, but she developed the basic principles and concepts under which Special Education still operates.

Over the last 100 years, CEC has focused on making education for exceptional students the best it can be. During that first year, they committed themselves to the design and establishment of “professional standards” when it came to teaching exceptionalities. They have continually sought to take these standards and strengthen them along the way. The current name, “Council for Exceptional Children,” was formally adopted in 1958 and in 1962, they would convene a National Convention with the main focus on addressing the national standards around teaching these students. 

As CEC moved into the 1970s, they saw the changing landscape in the world outside of education and the need for support for those with exceptionalities. Taking that into account, they redoubled their efforts to make sure that teachers, and the students with whom they were working with, had the support needed for excellence in education. Many may not be aware of the impact that CEC had in the passing of The Education for All Handicapped Children Act, also known as Public Law 94-142.  This was significant due to the fact that most students with exceptionalities were not always able to receive the education and opportunity being provided to their neuro-typical peers.

As we moved into the 1980s, we began to see a shift in how exceptional individuals were being seen in the medical community. The publication of the DSM-3 demonstrated a movement toward better understanding of issues facing our individuals. For example, this manual was the first to formally acknowledge Autism as its own category and NOT a sub-category of Schizophrenia. Imagine the impact that had on the medical community. CEC took it upon themselves to focus on the legal aspect of supporting our exceptional students. With guidance and a focused approach, they helped to bring about multiple events and laws for the years to come. In the beginning, they joined with other groups to create the International Year of Disabled Persons. This event in 1981 was created to bring awareness, along with the hope, and helping to change the perspectives of those who did not understand the depth of what individuals with exceptionalities bring to the rest of the world. CEC was also instrumental in the passage of the Perkins Act as well as several other laws which focused on brining services to families with children who had exceptionalities from the time of their birth. These services were not required until a child turned three prior to this time. CEC’s role continued to grow after 1990 thanks to the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which brought grants, resources, and free appropriate public education to eligible children. 

For me, the CEC has always been the bedrock to what we as teachers, administrators, and therapists buil upon to make our classrooms and schools the strongest they can be for our students. Personally, I used the standards they discussed as I worked with individuals with autism in the 1980s. I then transitioned into working with students who had reading difficulties in the late 80s. It was often difficult to work with students facing those difficulties as the assessments were not always able to pick up processing delays or conditions like dyslexia. The CEC always provided a sense of hope as they were a group that spoke to what we did as educators and reminded us that we were making a difference no matter what “standardized tests” were saying about our students. Directing programs in the 1990s, I saw the rise of students with ADD (ADHD would be later identified as well). It was not easy to get teachers and parents to understand that attention issues were real and not simply because a child was lazy or bad. CEC guided us as to how to stay focused on the most important aspect of our role as educators, the education of that child. 

In the last two decades, we have seen CEC continue to lead the way globally as well as here in the United States. They supported the use of technologies as early as the 1980s and continued to shape policy so that the assistive technology was available for individuals who needed it. We, as a community, were already overcoming so many barriers in education when the pandemic hit in early 2020. CEC has been there as a guide the entire time by continuing to support educators and provide ideas needed to transition to virtual and hybrid settings. While we may not have been perfect, we did an amazing job with what we had. Now, as we face continued uncertainty, CEC continues to guide us through webinars, conferences and materials.

Good organizations are generational and support groups for a period of years. Great organizations maintain relevancy for multiple generations. The Council for Exceptional Children have been with us for 100 years now and still manage to evolve to the times. They are outstanding as an organization and have done so much for each and every one of our students.

Thank you, CEC, for all that you have done and here is to another 100 years of being a national treasure, supporting all of us along the way!

Access Angle: Celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Gabriel Ryan, School Health Blog Writer and Contributor

Celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Every October, the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy, along with state and local organizations, recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The purpose of NDEAM is to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. This is the 76th Anniversary of NDEAM and this year's theme is "America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion". To bring national awareness, the White House has issued a proclamation on their website related to this National Disability Employment Awareness Month, 2021. The history of NDEAM dates back to 1945.


  • 1945: Congress designated the first week in October to recognize the skills and contributions of people with physical disabilities.
  • 1962: The language was broadened to include all disabilities.
  • 1988: Congress expanded the week to a month and renamed it National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)

All are invited to join the U.S Secretary of Labor, Marty Walsh, and Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy, Taryn Williams and others across the nation on October 20th, 2021, at the National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) Virtual Celebration. This is an opportunity to learn more and hear from leaders and change makers supporting the continued efforts.

There are a wealth of materials available for employers and educators to promote National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Beyond the awareness month, there are several informative resources on websites such as, where accessibility in the workplace and accessibility in education are highlighted. Another useful resource is the ADA National Network. Their purpose is to provide information, guidance, and training on how to implement the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). They serve businesses, employers, state and local governments, disability organizations and individuals with disabilities whose rights are protected under the ADA.

In celebration of varied contributions of workers with disabilities, through an inclusive lens, I’d like to highlight some fantastic examples I encourage you to read more about.


Founded in 2011, Mozzeria cooks up authentic wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas and offers an experience in Deaf culture while working to increase career placement opportunities for Deaf people. Mozzeria is proud to be a place where employees can demonstrate their talent and feel a shared sense of belonging.

Ada’s Café

Ada's Cafe is a non-profit corporation dedicated to hiring, training and empowering employees with disabilities. Where Good Food and Community Meet. Ada's also conducts collaborative research on improving workplaces for people with disabilities. 

Vertical Harvest

Provides inclusive employment for underserved populations in the vertical farms programs. These employees grow food for the local communities in vertical greenhouses located in urban environments. Watch their award-winning independent documentary Hearts of Glass.


A national cookie business founded by Collette Divitto, who was born with Down Syndrome. Collettey’s has a mission to create jobs for people with disabilities, change public perception of how capable this population is, and they work with law makers in Washington D.C. on policies to support employees with disabilities.

Josh Blue

An entertainment icon, Josh has a huge presence on social media with over one million views on his YouTube clips and almost one million followers on Facebook. He is a comic who has Cerebral Palsy and is my personal favorite. His comedy and wit are enjoyed by people with and without disabilities.

Microsoft-Supported Employment Program

Their mission is to partner with vendors and local employment agencies to make a substantial difference in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Workers receive wages and benefits from their vendor employers, plus the social benefits of working alongside colleagues of all abilities.

"There was a whole group of people out there that could do the job as well or better, that we were unjustly leaving behind," says Randy Lewis, a former SVP at Walgreens. “I think we have demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that people with disabilities can do the job. Try it, if it doesn’t work what did you really loose? It will take a lot more people doing it, but if we can move the world that millionth of an makes it all worthwhile.”  Learn more about Randy Lewis and Walgreens approach to including workers with disabilities through this brief video, Employers Rarely Hire People With Disabilities. Here's Why They Should.

My personal example of a creative employment opportunity is with the School Health Corporation. Eight years ago, they offered me an interview for a blog writer position. They were interested in bringing in my perspective and experience as a person with a disability who is familiar with accessibility, assistive technology, and inclusion in everyday situations. Over time my role in the company has expanded to also include co-presenting at conferences, representing at exhibitor events, participating in department and companywide meetings, and serving as a thought partner on various projects and products. I’m proud to promote the resources and products our company offers and hand out my business cards wherever I go.

Often employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities are hard to find or don’t yet exist. When an individual comes along with skills and talents to share, and a business is willing to create a role or adjust the environment to support that person’s contribution, both individuals and companies thrive.

“We will all profit from a more diverse, inclusive society, understanding, accommodating, even celebrating our differences, while pulling together for the common good.”~ Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Mindfulness Practices For Ourselves and Our Students

Connie Morris - Budding Yoga

B.A., Elementary Education, M.A., Special Education (Autism), 200hr RYT, Certified Children's Yoga Teacher, Mindfulness Training


This past school year has been like no other. We have shown resilience, life-long learning, and stepped up even though we were not always sure where it would lead us! But we did it, with courage, love, and dedication. Now, it is time to relax and recharge as we get ready to return and be there for our students and families.


The idea of taking time for ourselves may seem like a luxury, even selfish, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is personal, a necessity and it is created through priorities and boundaries. It requires space, time, and opportunity. It is a mindset, a gradual rewiring of the brain, and begins with mindfulness and self-awareness.


Make it personal! Just like our students, we have different preferences, interests, needs and strengths. Begin by making a list of your priorities: what you need and want to do each day? Try not being judgmental about your thoughts, just list whatever you think of. Once completed, it is important to use your priority list as you create a self-care plan. When we talk about wellness, we need to consider the body, mind, and heart. Think about the word CARE. Each letter brings our focus to a necessary component of self-care: Centering, Arts, R&R, and Exercise.


·         Centering is about the heart, your very being. Breathing exercises, showing gratitude, mindfulness, yoga, meditation, prayer, journaling and stretching are activities that can center us and give us focus.

·         Arts brings out the creative side of us. Ideas such as healthy meal planning, cooking, painting, coloring, playing an instrument, gardening, sewing, writing, or photography can give us purpose and peace.

·         R&R is an aspect of our lives that cannot be overlooked. Sleep requirements should absolutely be considered here. In addition to sleep, allowing our body and mind to rest and relax can be accomplished in so many ways. Sitting by a tree or on a beach, listening to music, enjoying nature, taking a nap, reading, or doing a puzzle are a few relaxing ideas. Doing nothing is fantastic too, so consider the possibility of embracing simply being bored!

·         Exercise is any movement. Walking, running, swimming, dancing, sports and games, biking, hiking, jumping rope, calisthenics, and boot camps are just a few ideas.

Choosing activities in each area of wellness will help create a holistic plan. Making choices using your own preferences will allow for a more personal plan. Using your priority list will provide for a more successful plan. For example, if your priorities are walking, family time and healthy meals, why not walk to the store together and grab a few necessary groceries before cooking and eating? Take small steps, making slight changes throughout the day. Soon, you will grow new habits you will be sharing with your students and family.


To create more time for priorities, reduction of and/or elimination of non-priority activities may have to occur. Therefore, boundaries are incredibly important not only to set but to hold firm. As role models to our students, families, and coworkers, we need to take care of ourselves, too. Studies have supported stress is contagious, but so is a smile. Let’s commit to sharing smiles more often, caring for our own health as well as others, and finding mindful moments throughout the day so we can build a healthy and supportive school environment.

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!