At APS, we believe that students can thrive and perform at their potential when they are healthy and present. This week we celebrate the warriors on the front line of that effort, our school nurses. National Nurses’ Week is observed May 6-12 and part of that celebration includes National School Nurses’ Day on Wednesday, May 11. It is a special opportunity to say thank-you for keeping our students and staff healthy and safe. During COVID-19, nurses everywhere worked tirelessly to care for those affected by the virus, and school nurses took the lead at our schools to ensure the safety and well-being of our students and staff.
“Nursing is beyond a profession… it is a calling. I am grateful to lead such an awesome team of nurses who answer the call every day with selflessness and compassion. ”
Dr. Valencia Beckley Hildreth, Health Services Director
In honoring nurses around the district, APS highlighted three caring and dedicated nurses. Here are their stories!
First up, here is Angelique Duffy, PhD, RN, School Nurse of M.L. King Middle School. Dr. Duffy has been with APS for one year now. Dr. Duffy shared her enthusiasm and wit, on what it means to be a Nurse.
Why did you become a nurse? Did you always plan to become a school nurse?
- “I have always loved caring for children, and I wanted to be able to provide them with the best care possible and realized that brown babies did not have enough nurses representing them. School nurse was always the end goal. My school nurse from Mays High School (Ms. Williams) was who I wanted to be.”
How has the role of the school nurse changed through the years?
- “Passing out Band-Aids is no longer the standard. Serious medical issues are normal now: diabetes, asthma, seizures. All of the medical diagnoses are in the school system everyday. These students want to feel as normal as possible and providing care from a school nurse can help this happen.”.”
Would you like to share anything about the pandemic and your role as a nurse?
- “Most people feel like COVID is over, but we are still in the trenches and this has been one very long year. The pandemic has really increased the stress level for all – students, teachers, administrators, staff and nurses. I wish everyone had the same vigilance that was seen in the first 4 months of school.”
Next up, meet Cheryl Freeman, BSN, RN who serves as the District Registered Nurse. Before joining APS, Cheryl served as a Public Health Nurse Supervisor.
Did you always plan to become a school nurse?
- “Not always, I actually started out wanting to be a psychiatrist, then a psychologist; then a social worker, and last but not least a nurse. My first job as a nurse was in psychiatry. I became a nurse because while I was in high school, I was a hospital volunteer as a Candy Striper. I enjoyed the satisfaction of helping people; and all my patients told me I would make a good nurse.”
Can you speak about your role and the APS whole-child wellness approach and how health is an important factor in education?
- “It is a well known fact that you get better results when you treat a person holistically. If a child is not well physically, mentally, or emotionally he or she cannot fully engage. So as a school nurse we do our part when a child comes to us. We don’t just look at the scratch on the elbow. We observe that child and see when there are other things going on or not.”
Last, but not least, here is Orlando Evans, LPN, school Nurse of P.L. Dunbar Elementary. Orlando has been with Atlanta Public Schools 5 years, and prior to serving APS he served as a home health Nurse.
How has the role of Nursing changed, and how has it changed for you?
- “School nursing has changed from treating cuts and scrapes to isolating and quarantining because of COVID-19. Additionally, nursing has changed from students coming in the clinic then returning to class, to contact investigation and up to quarantine and isolation.”
Why do you love being a school nurse?
- “I love being a school nurse because I like caring for our kids in a place where they are educated.”
We wish all of awesome APS Nurses a Happy Nurses Week and thank them for their unwavering services!