By Stuart J. Pearlman, TSB Staff
If your school’s nurse were the best school nurse in the state, would you want your child to spend more time in the nurse’s office? Probably not! But if your child was a student at McKinney ISD’s Wolford Elementary, you could rest assured knowing that if they were not feeling well, Nurse Kathy Johnson (RN, BSN) is on the job.
The Texas School Nurses Organization (TXSNO) recently named Johnson School Nurse of the Year. Johnson will be recognized at the 12th Annual TNA Nursing Leadership Conference in Austin at the end of September.
The TXSNO’s mission is: “… to advance the practice of professional school nurses and enhance school nursing practice in ways that promote each student’s optimal level of wellness and educational success.”
Kathy has been working in MISD for the past 10 years and has been at Wolford ES for six. This is a particularly special time for her.
“I am really really excited,” Johnson said. “I think it will highlight all that school nurses do. It’s not something a lot of people think about but we add a lot of value to education in all of Texas.”
Prep for the Tooth Fairy
Being the school nurse gets all kinds of attention for young children.
“Whenever I walk down the halls, all the kids put their hands in their mouths to show me their loose teeth,” said Johnson. “I put their name on the lost tooth wall.”
When the kids bring the tooth in later they are rewarded with a tooth necklace.
Early in Kathy’s career she was an Army nurse. While she may not overtly credit that experience as preparation for her role today, there is no doubt the field work has an influence on dealing with elementary school children.
Wolford Principal Fran Gratt can’t say enough about her school nurse.
“Kathy is an outstanding nurse who goes above and beyond,” Gratt said. “Most people think of school nurses as just tending to a child who is sick but she does so much more. For instance, she is in charge of our coordinated health team. It’s not just taking care of a person who is sick. It’s making sure that the whole child is healthy. That’s why we love her so much!”
The road to this honor was not a simple one. First Kathy was named School Nurse of the Year for MISD. Then should took top honors in Region 10.
In early June, Gratt penned Kathy’s official nomination to the TXSNO. In it she identified one of the initiatives Kathy spearheaded at Wolford.
“When a wheelchair bound student confided in Kathy that others probably do not understand how difficult it is to be in a wheelchair all day long, Kathy creatively came up with a ‘Wheelchair for a Day’ program,” Gratt said, “where our fifth graders rode in a wheelchair all day long. The result was an awakening awareness for the peers of our wheelchair bound student and a deeper understanding of the challenges that this child faced daily. Such a program helped our students at Wolford to develop a special compassion and a better understanding of the needs of those who experience a handicapping condition.”
Earlier this week, Kathy received notification from the TXSNO that she had been selected as School Nurse of the Year at that she would be honored at the TXSNO convention in Austin in late September and at a special luncheon in November.
And so, now the already challenging and fulfilling life of a school nurse will get a little more exciting. The Wolford “family” is already preparing a special celebration to honor Nurse Kathy in September and the TV crews are already making their appointments.
“A better person could not have been selected for this honor,” said Gratt.
To learn more about the Texas School Nurses Association and the School Nurse of the Year program, visit the TXSNO website at http://txsno.org/.
Click the video above to listen in as Kathy retells an Army Nurse discussion with one of Wolford’s third graders; and also click the .pdf attachment for Kathy’s letter informing her of the award.