National Nurses Week began Monday, and today is National School Nurse Day. This day and week are all about honoring nurses, and the manner in which they impact lives every day. According to Linda Davis, President of the National Association of School Nurses (NASN), says, “NASN celebrates all school nurses for positively influencing the health and well-being of students nationally and globally through the many roles [they] fulfill.” This is precisely what we aim to do with the ASHE Award, for Achievement in School Health Excellence.
The ASHE Award was created to recognize the dedication of health professionals to their profession and students. Magnus Health hopes to bring to light the daily contributions of many, by highlighting the achievements of a few through this people’s choice award. With this in mind, what better time to announce the 2013 ASHE Award Recipients?
After a panel of judges narrowed down more than 60 nominations to the top 10 finalists, the public cast more than 2,100 votes. And though the race was tight, the winners were clear. Congratulations to Sister Mary Brenda, nurse at St. Agnes Academy, and Nancy Weida, nurse at Portsmouth Abbey School, our 2013 ASHE Award recipients!
Both Brenda and Weida will receive a personalized plaque along with a $1,500 cash prize for their respective school health center. The nominations for both Brenda and Weida can be found below.
Eight other finalists rounded out the top ten and will each receive a $100 gift card. These honorees include, in no particular order: Denise Nerem, Nurse at Edgerton Public School & Edgerton Christian School; Melanie Schmitt, Nurse at St. Peter in Chains School; Maureen Sizemore, Head Athletic Trainer at Beaumont School; Margaret Plikaitis, Nurse at American School for the Deaf; Carol Smith, Nurse at The Hun School of Princeton; Kelly Long, Nurse at Charlotte Preparatory School; Pamela Barnes, Nurse at The Children’s Institute; Lorraine Coletti, Nurse at St. Vincent DePaul Catholic School.
- Sister Mary Brenda, nominated by Amy Mattes: 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, nominated by Pamela Gorman: 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.