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Monfredo: Our Community Heroes, Teachers & Nurses - Say Thank You!

Tuesday, May 03, 2016


“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” 

― John F. Kennedy

“Nurses dispense comfort, compassion, and caring without even a prescription.”— Val Saintsbury

Lets reflect on these two quotes and stop and thank those who continue to make a difference inthe lives of our children and in this community. This week, the week of May 2, gives us, the community, an opportunity to thank two groups of professionals who make a difference in our school system. They are our teachers and the school nurses.  Both groups are dedicated to their cause and reach out to our children and parents every day to assist in making the lives of our students positive and healthy.  

National Teacher Day falls on May 3,  this year and Teacher Appreciation Week 2016 lasts from May 3 to May 6. National School Nurse Day, also known as School Nurse Day, is celebrated during National Nurse Week, which runs annually from May 6 to May 12. May 6 is celebrated as National Nurses Day.

As a former principal I know firsthand that a successful school system must have a balance of academics and wellness. Thus, both groups complement each other very well and are important to our students and their families.

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 all 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.

The public should be aware that teachers are the most critical factor in student achievement, far more powerful than class size (which is also important), and other external and internal factors.  All children learn different in ways, and teachers in this generation are equipped to differentiate instruction to support learning.  Let us remember that a good teacher does more than pass on information. A good teacher inspires a thirst for learning that lasts a lifetime, instilling confidence, conveying values, and shaping our understanding of the world around us. 

We as a community don’t thank teachers enough for what they do day after day for our students. Despite horrible years of budget cuts (and this year will be of no exception), 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.

Teaching is the only profession out of which all others must grow. We are in an era of great accountability and excellence and more is expected from our teachers. Unfortunately the lack of resources so needed in the teaching profession has hampered their progress.   Yet our teachers continue to work hard, purchase materials out of their own pocket and reach out to our children. They do indeed make a difference in children’s lives. School is where they learn the Pledge of Allegiance and the U.S. Constitution.   It 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 but wherever we are from we are united as Americans. Honoring our teachers on Teacher Appreciation Week should not be limited to this week, however, establishing a particular time of the year for teacher appreciation helps us to remember how important teachers are in society.

The same can be said about our school nurses for if you think that school nurses are only about band aids and ice packs you haven’t been inside a school lately. Nurses on a daily basis are constantly reaching out to our students and to their families and in many cases they are the one person who a child trusts with his/her most inner thoughts.   In many cases the child’s primary care provider. 

I’m a firm believer that healthy children are successful learners.  It’s important to know that you can't educate a child who isn't healthy and you can't keep a child healthy who isn't educated. The school nurse has a multi-faceted role within the school setting, one that supports the physical, mental, emotional, and social health of students and their success in the learning process.  Part of their role is to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

Our school nurses in Worcester continue to collect medical data and stats for over 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.  On average, the nurses in the Worcester Public Schools, according to nurse coordinator Dr. Debra McGovern, see over 22,000 students every month. They support many students with chronic diseases, administer over 500 medications monthly, 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. School Nurses help keep students in school by managing chronic health conditions, shortening illness-related absences, lessening the number of students sent home needlessly, providing early detection and correction of health problems.  According to research, 93% of students seen by the nurses return to class. Most importantly, providing a nursing service for these students allows them to attend school and reach their maximum potential.

The school nurses in Worcester are highly trained professionals for they must be a licensed Registered Nurse, hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree in Nursing, have a minimum of two full years of experience as an RN, have a passing score on the communication and literacy test, must pass the National School Nurse Certification exam and must pass courses in continuing education throughout their career to maintain their license to practice.  On average, the nurses in the Worcester Public Schools, according to nurse coordinator Dr. Debra McGovern,  see over 22,000 every month.  They support many students with chronic diseases so that they can remain in school

As you can see teachers and nurses are a vital part of the success the Worcester Public Schools and both groups are involved in making a difference in a child’s life.  So what can we do to let them know how much we appreciate their efforts?  Consider the following:

•    If you’re a former student a visit to the school or send a card to say thank you would be appropriate.
•    Write a letter to both and ask how you can support them throughout the year.
•    Show your support by volunteering at the school in their honor.
•    Write a letter to the editor and praise the work being done at your child’s school.

This week please take the time to thank a teacher and the school nurse for their dedication and for their caring about our children. I know I will!



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