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John Monfredo: May is the Month To Remember Our Teachers + Nurses

Saturday, April 27, 2013


It's both National School Nurse and Teacher Appreciation weeks in May. Let's show them the respect and thanks they deserve.

As we turn the calendar next week to May let us remember to thank two groups of professionals who continue to make a difference in the lives of our children in school… our teachers and our school nurses. If we are to meet the diverse needs of our students, schools of the present and the future need to have a balance between Wellness and Academics. Our community in Worcester is most fortunate to have an abundance of outstanding teachers and school nurses in our school system. We hear so much about accountability and the need to do better but little is said about these professionals who are prepared and dedicated to their professions.

During the week of May 7th this community will have the opportunity to say THANK YOU to the teachers as they celebrate “Teacher Appreciation Week” and to the nurses as they celebrate “National School Nurses Weeks.”

Let’s start with our teachers! I'm reminded of a quote from Henry Brooks Adams: "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. Having been an educator for most of my adult life, I cannot think of any better way of reaching out and making a difference in the life of a child than being a teacher for it is a most challenging and rewarding profession. Every day parents entrust the teacher with their child and rely on the teacher to assist them in molding their future.

As the great education reformer from Massachusetts, Horace Mann stated, “Teachers teach because they care. Teaching young people is what they do best. It requires long hours, patience, and care." Over 100 years later that statement continues to resonate.

We as a community don’t thank teachers enough for what they do day after day for our students. Despite years of budget cuts, lack of supplies, more students in the classroom as well as additional accountability without the necessary funds, our teachers have prevailed and have persevered. Teachers have continued to establish relationships with students and parents in an attempt to make a difference in our students’ lives and in their academic progress.

Teachers are true heroes in this community for each day they work diligently to assist our children to become successful adult. National Teacher Week focuses on the contributions teachers make to help children succeed in school and in life. Public schools are where children learn to be Americans. School is where they learn the Pledge of Allegiance and about the U.S. Constitution. It is where our children learn about the importance of voting and the impact that it has in our life. It is where they learn that diversity is strength.

I believe that Teacher Appreciation has to go beyond the one week in the school year. It needs to be expressed in a number of ways and by everyone in our society. We need to build cultures of appreciation in our classrooms and schools in order to do this. We need to develop structures through which students can appreciate each other, and those who support them at school -- including those who sweep the floors and fix their lunches.

The same can be said about our school nurses for they are constantly reaching out to our students and to their families. In many cases they are the one person that a child trusts with his/her most inner thoughts and in many cases the child’s primary care provider. All across the nation, school nurses are advocating for children’s health by representing the specialty practice at local, state and national levels – even at the White House!

Our school nurses in the Worcester schools continue to collect medical data and stats for 24,000 students, maintain an individual health record on each of these students and as needed health care plans. The nurses perform state mandated screenings at each school site: height, weight, Body Mass Index, vision, hearing, and postural. They make time to care for students in school with life threatening allergies, diabetes, asthma, cancer, and many other medically complex medical issues and in some instances terminal medical problems. Our school nurses are the daily eyes and ears of health care providers and public health, and serve our community’s most vulnerable children by addressing their health risks and helping parents navigate our complex health system.


Most importantly, they are providing a nursing service for students with medical problems that allows them to attend school and reach their maximum potential.

Research shows that early access to care and prevention strategies is vital, which is why school nurses promote healthy lifestyles and disease prevention for students during their early and most vulnerable years – and lasting through high school. School nurses are an invaluable bridge that connects health care providers, public health and families. According to research school nurses work with 98 percent of school-aged children in the United States.

Let’s remember that healthy children learn better, and school nurses help remove barriers to academic success. While school nurses' technical expertise has increased, their professional roles have also increased. In addition to ensuring compliance with children's school entry health requirements and treatment protocols, school nurses are now often responsible for case management, making and following-up on referrals, assuring the overall health and safety of the school, providing for staff wellness, and maintaining the security of medications. They are responsible for the management of the school health office, maintaining records, and assuring student compliance with state and local regulations related to health and safety. They participate in the establishment of health-related protocols and policies within the school as well as assist in the development of IEPs and 504 accommodations and are members of crisis teams and intervention teams for children identified at-risk.

Both teachers and nurses are an integral part of the success of the Worcester Public schools and both groups agree that performing a service for our children and making a difference in a child’s life is its own reward. What means the most to these professionals? Something very simple that we can all do - a visit from a former student or parent or a just a thank you note from a parent or from a community member!

So during the week of May 7th take the time to thank a teacher and the school nurse for making a difference in the lives of our children. I KNOW I WILL!


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