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It's National School Nurses Day!
Ashly Armstrong, RN, (third from left on front) is a leader with the Girls on the Run club at Mustang Elementary. They're training for a 5k on May 21.

In honor of National School Nurses Day on May 11, Mustang Public Schools would like to take an opportunity to recognize the seven full time nurses and seven nurse assistants who see to the health and wellbeing of nearly 11,000 students. Between the nurses and nursing assistants, the staff brings previous experience from pediatrics, oncology, home health, cardiology, intensive care, obstetrics, diabetes and mental health. Many have been employed with the district for more than a decade.

Kimberly Spillman, RN, who is assigned to Mustang High sees being a school nurse as a calling, much like teaching.

"The majority of people are unaware of what school nurses do on an average day. It's not just putting Band-Aids on scrapes and stickers on T-shirts," she said.  "When you walk in the door you never know what will be waiting for you. School nurses advocate for every child that enters their office. It may be concerning a chronic illness, injury, abuse, mental illness, or various other issues. Our nurses are part of the community. The kids know them, trust them. In some instances they may be the only one that the child may trust.

Paige Wedman, MHS senior, said the high school nurse was a vital part of her high school career.

"I spent countless hours in the nurse's office throughout my high school career," she said. "She was my second mother and she cared for me like her own."

School nurses advocate with teachers and administrators on behalf of a child who may have additional health needs that need to be met. Mustang's nurses and assistants are the first responders for students who are injured or may be suffering from a medical event such as a seizure. They take part in multiple committees across the district to promote the health and wellness for all students.

Nurses also sponsor and assist with after school activities.  Ashly Armstrong, nurse at Lakehoma and Mustang Elementary, has been a sponsor for Girls on the Run for the past three years.  GOTR is a non-profit organization dedicated to instilling confidence, problem solving, and effective communication, among other things, in an active creative way.  Their curriculum integrates running games and exercises.  Lakehoma has two teams of 15 students this year.  Elementary has one team again this year.  They are preparing to run a 5K on Saturday, May 21, at Wheeler Park.

"It's a great way to build character while also promoting a healthy lifestyle," Spillman said. "The program teaches the girls that having a healthy lifestyle is important and helps to boost their self-esteem with lessons that focus on beauty and confidence."

The nursing staff relies on their nursing office assistants to keep the offices running smoothly. With their assistance, nurses are able to perform vision and hearing screenings, train teachers and administrators in CPR/First Aid, organize immunization clinics, teach HIV prevention and interact with students in the classroom.

Dr. Sean McDaniel, superintendent, said the district's nurses and nursing staff are invaluable.

"A school district this size cannot function efficiently without the care and assistance of our nursing staff," he said. "They are partners in education, working alongside our teachers to meet the needs of students. We are blessed in this district to have this caliber of nursing staff."