It’s that time again, and no, I don’t mean the holidays. I am of course referring to the one and only, the beautiful, the rare, the elusive, the bright and shiny, the ASHE Award, for Achievement in School Health Excellence! This marks the third year we’ve awarded a school nurse, athletic trainer, or other health staff member, highlighting their contributions and accomplishments in school health. Past winners each received a grant for their school health center, as well as a personalized plaque.
Students, teachers, and administrators alike depend on school nurses and health staff for everyday and emergency care, so take this opportunity to show your support. We’ll open for nominations January 6th and voting will decide the winners and finalists, which we’ll announce during National Nurses Week in May. Check out our ASHE Award page for all the rules and details.
May is several months away, so you have time – I don’t want to rush you, pressure you, certainly not nag you, but do be thinking about the person at your school, or your child’s school, who embodies all the wonderful qualities of a school healthcare provider. Sometimes providing care can be a thankless job, and this is an easy, meaningful way to let your nominee know they’re appreciated. Below are our past winners’ nominations. You’ll notice the competition is stiff, so be prepared to come back in the New Year and make your nomination count!
Sister Mary Brenda (2013): Promoting quality health for youth who need it most is Sister Mary's passion. Her nursing track record is amazing. She has lived with and cared for school children all over the world from small barrios in Bogota, Colombia to HIV orphanages in rural East Africa. This past year, she organized our students to raise funds to drill two wells for a school in Kenya without water. She also took our students on a spring mission trip to the border of Mexico to repair homes for the poor. Sister came to our school last year as a teacher when we did not have a school nurse. Immediately, we all felt a certain peace knowing she was nearby and willing and able to handle medical issues on campus. Her abilities soon led us to name her as our school nurse! Since then, she has been a first responder in many situations with ill and/or injured students and faculty members. The day a student fell seriously ill with an asthma attack and cardiac arrest, showed us how glad we were that we had Sister Mary in place. She changed our school clinic overnight, taking it from just a sleep room to a legitimate health center. We can honestly say, our school nurse, Sister Mary Brenda, has made a world of difference in the health and safety of our school.
Nancy Weida (2013): Nancy Weida has been a school nurse at PAS for 30 years. When she was hired as a part time nurse she immediately set about giving the school more than they could ever pay her for. She began a S.A.D.D. chapter and sponsored Skating Parties (organized baked goods from local parents, pizza at cost from a local pizzeria and soda and sandwich donations with 2 hours of free skating), multiple lectures against drinking and driving (Patriots FB player, local ER nurse and more), mocktails in the gym with BB players from Providence College, mock car crash with the local Fire Department, floating candles in the Winter Garden fountain to symbolize the lives lost every year. Her most significant contribution was coauthoring the Teens Leading Children (TLC) project with a public school nurse in town. Our High School age children were trained by her to teach 4 lessons in the local 4th grade classrooms that were geared toward avoiding drinking and driving, good drugs versus bad drugs, self-esteem and making good choices. Nancy presented the program at a statewide conference and it was picked up by several other schools in R.I. Nancy and I began the Clothe-A-Child program at the school over 20 years ago. She would organize her S.A.D.D. students to help raise money in the houses and around campus to buy coats and outfits for needy children in R.I. and nearby Massachusetts. Clothe-A-Child program has raised over $100,000 since its inception. I could write an additional 1,000 words on all the other ideas she has come up with and implemented successfully over the years. When she isn’t doing projects for S.A.D.D., she is the “emergency magnet” in the Infirmary. She has successfully coped with several episodes of anaphylaxis, weird cardiac conditions (one that required a pacemaker on a 15 year old), an 18 year old with a rare twisting of the colon, numerous severe asthma attacks and low and high blood sugars, a gunshot wound, alcohol poisoning, seizures, and more. She is an amazing woman and a phenomenal nurse who has dedicated her life to the care and education of the students here at the school.
Tania Chouljian (2012): Tania Chouljian is an RN and serves as a school nurse for over 620 students. She is an amazing and caring health care provider, making every child and parent feel cared for and well informed. She was very involved in efforts to help our school become the first "Healthy 100" school in Orange County and one of the first "Fit and Friendly" (sponsored by the American Heart Association) schools in the nation. She raises awareness of current health issues by publishing health education updates in weekly newsletters, coordinates CPR classes and other health related trainings for staff and faculty, works with Florida Hospital to implement staff health screenings and health fun and fitness days. She helps parents to be proactive with their children's health, many times detecting illnesses before they become serious. She maintains confidential health records for the entire student body assuring that students are up to date on required shots and physicals. She administers medication, always honoring the privacy of the child, she communicates and trains teachers and staff on student allergies and illnesses and conditions. She attends all out of state/overnight field trips to care for the medical needs of students and parents and the needs of students with chronic illnesses. She works with other health care providers in training and educating students on health related topics such as puberty and emerging adolescence. Her wonderful sense of humor and warm and caring ways make her very approachable by parents, students, and staff. In short, she is an outstanding school nurse