Meet Our First-Ever School Nurse Leadership Award Winners

May 07, 2014

Today is National School Nurse Day, and it’s an honor to announce the winners of our inaugural School Nurse Leadership Award. The five winners and four honorable mentions selected from across the country represent school nurses who are blazing new trails in their field, reimagining the role that school nurses play in school health and wellness, students’ academic success and the health of the larger community. These exemplary individuals have made significant contributions in the following nurse leadership categories: state, policy, urban schools, rural schools, and innovative programs.

“It’s our pleasure to recognize these outstanding school nurses who have gone above and beyond to create healthier school environments,” said HSC President and CEO Rochelle Davis. “We have long supported school nurses and the critical role they play in school health and wellness. The School Nurse Leadership Award is a way for us to highlight the meaningful and innovative approaches school nurses are taking to prioritize student health.”

School Nurse Leadership Award nominees were evaluated according to criteria outlined by HSC’s successful School Nurse Leadership Training Program, which includes efforts to change school health policy, to promote evidence-based practices and to work effectively with others. Final winners and honorable mentions were selected by a national panel of school health experts.

The School Nurse Leadership Award is generously sponsored and supported by School Health Corporation and MAICO Diagnostics. Winners receive a certificate of recognition, a $500 gift card to School Health catalog, and they will be featured in HSC’s blog and webinar series.

Without further ado, the 2014 Outstanding School Nurse Leadership Award Winners winners are:

Outstanding State Leader: Cheri Dotson, Santa Fe Public Schools, Santa Fe, N.M. – Over her 31-year career as a school nurse, Cheri spent two terms as president of the New Mexico School Nurse Association and is the lead nurse for Santa Fe Public Schools. She is a wellness champion in her district, and she is part of a school nurse team collaborating with the University of New Mexico Hospital emergency medical staff to create a virtual school nurse behavioral health emergencies training module.

Outstanding Policy Leader: Katherine Park, Oak Brook Elementary School, Ballwin, Mo. – Katherine is a recognized expert on diabetes care and treatment within the Parkway School District and across the state of Missouri. She created a Diabetes Personnel Training toolkit that is used within her district and is being adopted in districts throughout the state to care for students with diabetes. She leads Parkway’s Diabetes Personnel Training program and helped develop statewide diabetes personnel training standards.

Outstanding Urban School Leader: Kathleen Ryan, Lincoln High School, San Diego, Calif. – Kathleen understands the critical relationship between school health and students’ academic success. Serving in a low-income school, Kathleen garnered the necessary support to bring a school-based health center (SBHC) to her school to address students’ unmet health care needs. The SBHC opened in 2008, providing free primary and preventative care, health education and behavior health services to the school’s 2,400 students. Today, the SBHC is a community hub that links students, parents and the school with community resources.

Outstanding Rural School Leader: Kelly Wagner, River Valley Local Schools, Marion, Ohio – As the only health professional in a four-school district, Kelly has championed the district’s health team to improve school health and wellness. Her efforts have led to staff fitness classes, student running clubs and a stronger focus on healthy snacks and rewards for students. She has significantly improved the district’s vision care program for students and collaborated with the local fire department to oversee CPR and AED training for school staff members.

Outstanding Innovative Program Leader: Kay Stukenborg, Kettering City Schools, Dayton, Ohio – Serving in a district where many children and their families rely on a “backpack program” that enables students to bring food home on Fridays so they won’t go hungry over the weekend, Kay implemented a healthy and budget-friendly meal preparation class for students and parents. The class spawned a cookbook containing easy, healthy recipes for home-cooked meals, and a “Meals with Manners” class, teaching kids how to set the table, prepare balanced plates and use proper table manners.

2014 Honorable Mentions

Gena Byrd, Green County Schools, Snow Hill, N.C.

Deanna Dubay, Saginaw Intermediate School District, Saginaw, Mich.

Juanita Gryfinski, St. Charles Community School District 303, St. Charles, Ill.

Nick Herrick, Beechwood Schools, Fort Mitchell, Ken.

Happy School Nurse Day to all school nurses, and a sincere and special thank you to all those who were nominated for this inaugural award. For more information about the 2014 School Nurse Leadership Award Winners, be sure to revisit our blog in the coming weeks for award-winner case studies and for information about upcoming webinars highlighting their work.