From the Office of Student Health and Wellness: Celebrating National School Nurse Day


This Wednesday, May 11, is National School Nurse Day. I’m delighted to tell you a bit about school nursing in our district, because we have much to be proud of.

The role of the school nurse has changed as health needs of students have changed. The Minneapolis and Saint Paul Public Schools were instrumental in creating the Healthy Learner Model for Chronic Condition Management, which supports the academic success of children with chronic conditions including asthma, diabetes, ADHD, hearing loss and others. School nurses coordinate care with health care providers and families to keep students in school and learning. When a student’s asthma is managed well, for example, they can gain up to two days of attendance each year.

Every school in our district has access to a school nurse for at least part of each week. The hours at a given site vary based on enrollment and the health conditions of students at the school. A nurse may spend additional hours at a school to assist a student with a new insulin pump, or to ensure that a seizure disorder is being treated appropriately.

School nurses go into the field because they like working with children and families, and they value being part of an educational team. Among all nursing specialties, school nurses have the highest job satisfaction -- and once they enter the field they tend to stay, which is great news for SPPS!

School nurses work at a high level of independence and autonomy because they are usually the only health care providers on site. This is not a job for beginners! SPPS is fortunate to have so many highly qualified nurses on our staff. A team of four SPPS nurses has been selected to attend the Johnson & Johnson School Health Leadership Program at Rutgers University this July. I will be proud to accompany them and urge you to congratulate Kelly Kantack, nurse coach leading our move to electronic student health records; Kelsey Maniaci, Como Elementary; Jennifer Nordstrand, nurse coach leading work for students with disabilities; and Yia Leepalao, Humboldt Secondary.

Indeed, SPPS nurses are leaders in their schools and beyond. Mary Tomes, ECSE school nurse, was the 2014 Minnesota School Nurse of the Year. Tom Stinson, Harding High School nurse, serves on the Program and Policy Council of the American Federation of Teachers, Healthcare division. Several current SPPS nurses are advanced practice registered nurses, bringing advanced skills to their role with students.

I encourage you to give a shout out to the school nurses in your life this week. In SPPS we have many reasons to celebrate our nurses every day of the year.


Mary Yackley
Student Health and Wellness