School Nurse Leadership

We recognize school nurses as important leaders and powerful advocates for children’s health and wellness in school.

Promoting Health and Creating Change

School nurses are integral to healthy school environments. If a student has an asthma attack, gets in an accident on the playground or experiences a sugar spike, it’s the school nurse who will get the child back to class or to a doctor. When students face medical problems that are affecting their school performance, it’s the school nurse who can connect a family to the right community resources. At the same time, school nurses bring a public health point of view to the school and work with teachers and school leaders to make changes that affect all students’ health. For example, school nurses work to promote healthy food in schools and to promote handwashing to prevent the spread of disease.

HSC values school nurses as key advocates for healthy school environments, and provides ongoing recognition and support through our School Nurse Leadership program.



HSC advocates for policies and funding to support greater access to and support for school nursing and school health services. With a national health policy that increasingly focuses on prevention and community care, school nurses can play a central role in bringing community care to students at school.  The connection between school nursing and student learning is especially important in low-income communities where students are at higher risk for health conditions that can detract from learning. Learn more about HSC’s school health policy efforts.

HSC also engages school nurses in speaking up for health-promoting policy. Our experience shows school nurses are remarkable advocates for change. For example, school nurse Donna Rehm faxed her legislator urging him to support a bill requiring green cleaning in Illinois schools. Rehm said: “I found out my legislator had been on the fence but decided at the last minute to support it. Turns out, someone came up to him after and asked, ‘What changed your mind?’ He said that a school nurse contacted him, and that had made the difference.”


HSC connects thousands of school nurse leaders across the country with resources and opportunities to take action on relevant policy issues. HSC also spotlights remarkable school nurse leadership and works to ensure that the voices of school nurses are represented in our nation’s dialogue about school health.

Webinars. We host a series of webinars each year to help advance the school nursing profession by sharing best practices, new innovations, and in many cases, highlighting the groundbreaking work of our School Nurse Leadership Award winners.

News. We also engage school nurses across the country through our School Nurse Leadership newsletter and timely action alerts. Sign up now to receive our newsletters and alerts.

Strong History

“Healthy Schools Campaign has a long history of promoting health in schools through its exemplary School Nurse Leadership Program which helps school nurses strengthen their networks and skills. Thanks to Healthy Schools Campaign, school nurses are stronger and their voices for school children are more powerful!”
Martha Dewey Bergren, University of Illinois College of Nursing

Our dedication to school nurses goes back more than 10 years. In 2004, several dynamic school nurse leaders gathered at HSC’s office to talk about leveraging school nurses’ unique perspective in the movement for healthy schools. That was the start of our School Nurse Advisory Committee and the development of our School Nurse Leadership Training program, which successfully trained 300 school nurses across the country over a period of seven years.


alex-circleAlex Mays
Senior National Program Director

School Nurse Leadership Award

Our annual School Nurse Leadership Award recognized school nurses from across the countryand overseas!who were blazing new trails in their field by re-imagining the role they play in school health, students’ academic success, and the health of the larger community.

For many students, services provided by school nurses are important lifelines to well-being and academic success. But the role of a school nurse often goes far beyond that. School nurses are in a position to be important health leaders in their schools and communities. From green cleaning to prevention to health policy, school nurses are making big changes.

We are no longer facilitating this award, but you can read the stories of previous award winners.


alex-circleAlex Mays
Senior National Program Director

Meet the School Nurse Leadership Award Winners

Learn about some of our past School Nurse Leadership Award winners and the inspiring work they’ve done to improve the health and wellness of their schools and communities.

2016 School Nurse Leadership Award Winners

Outstanding Urban School Leader
Ponzella Johnson
Harriet Tubman Elementary School, New York, N.Y.

Outstanding Mental Health Champion
Judith Morgitan
Perkiomen Valley High School, Collegeville, Penn.
Read more

Outstanding Policy Leader
Cathy Owens
Murrieta Valley Unified School District, Murrieta, Calif.
Read more

Innovative Program Leader
Adele Pudner
Al and Jean’s, Inc., Plainfield Public Schools, Plainfield, N.J.
Read more

Outstanding Food and Fitness Leader
Sherdina Williams
Garrett Morgan School, Cleveland, Ohio
Read more

2016 School Nurse Leadership Award Honorable Mentions

  • Sheri Coburn, San Joaquin County Office of Education, Stockton, Calif.
  • Coleen Figliuzzi, Frenchtown Elementary School, Trumbull, Conn.
  • JoDe Kinnaman, South Central Unified at Lawrence/Nelson, Lawrence, Neb.
  • Irene Rosales, Nye Elementary, Laredo, Tex.
  • Mary Tramontozzi, Moriarty Environmental Sciences Magnet School, Norwich, Conn.

2015 School Nurse Leadership Award Winners

Sandra Lawinger
Community Consolidated School District, Glen Ellyn, Ill.
Read more

Carla Smith
Ellis School, Fremont, N.H.
Read more

Eva Stone
Lincoln County Schools, Stanford, Ken.
Read more

Lily Bagtas
Joan Mendel Elementary School, Yokota Air Base, Tokyo, Japan
Read more

Kelly Grenham
Mapleton Public Schools, Mapleton, Col.
Read more


alex-circleAlex Mays
Senior National Program Director

Leadership for Health-Promoting Change

Our School Nurse Leadership Award is a continuation of our work to recognize the extraordinary contributions of school nurses across the country.

In 2006, we launched our School Nurse Leadership program to provide school nurses with the knowledge and training necessary to become effective advocates for changes in policies and practices that support healthier school environments. Over the next seven years, we trained hundreds of school nurses from across the country who went on to become champions for health and wellness in their schools. The training program focused on providing school nurses with skills and knowledge such as:

  • Understanding local, state and federal school health policies
  • Embracing evidence-based practice
  • Understanding how to effectively work with groups
  • Developing skills to lead groups, address the media
  • Supporting policy changes in their school and community
  • Building teams to make changes related to school health

The success of the School Nurse Leadership program confirmed the role that school nurses can play as wellness champions in their schools. Program participants advocated for changes in school food, fitness and indoor environments. They help establish wellness teams, instituted nutrition guidelines in their schools, created indoor air quality committees and promoted regular physical activity.

What Leaders Are Saying

“Healthy Schools Campaign’s groundbreaking work with the development and implementation of Wellness Policies in Illinois schools provided much-needed impetus for schools to really do something about wellness beyond adopting a policy and filing it on the shelf. Healthy Schools Campaign has helped school nurses across the state become active in implementing and expanding the wellness programs in their schools.”
Linda Gibbons, Illinois Association of School Nurses

Increasing Resources for School Nursing

Through this leadership program, we saw firsthand the incredible impact school nurses have on student health and wellness. This led HSC to advocate for policies and regulatory changes that increase access to and resources for school nurses.

In December 2014, HSC and advocates across the country were successful in supporting the removal of a major barrier to funding for school health services: the free care policy. HSC is now working to implement this policy change and support increased funding for school health services across the country. Learn more about HSC’s work on the free care policy and its potential impact for access to school health services.


alex-circleAlex Mays
Senior National Program Director

School Nurse Leadership Resources

Access related resources below, or go to our main Resource Center to access resources across all of our program and policy areas.