In a district that’s comprised of 14 campuses and more than 1,200 staff members, it can be easy to overlook a very special group of people who could be described as the heartbeat of the district. As we conclude another year of flu season, we turn our attention to the nurses who care for the nearly 10,000 students of Frenship ISD.
You may wonder what the day of a school nurse consists of. As one Frenship nurse described it, “We never know what is going to happen when we walk into our office in the morning.” – Kathy Balko, nurse at Frenship Middle School. “Believe me, anything can happen, and it does. Our caseload is unpredictable, and our clients range in age from infant to geriatric. We are here for everyone that steps into our building.”
From medication administration to assessing illnesses and injuries, a nurse’s day is full. The Frenship nurses are also part of the Campus Emergency Teams and help with planning, CPR instruction and first aid instruction. They also conduct state-mandated screenings such as vision, hearing and scoliosis, and manage immunizations enabling students to maximize their learning potential.
“Our offices are health clinics and mini-emergency rooms,” said Catherine Mousavi, nurse at Willow Bend Elementary. “Flexibility is the name of our game. We never quite know what the day will bring.”
“My job is so much more than weeding out the sick from the healthy,” said Evyn Box, Oak Ridge Elementary nurse. “My biggest priority is loving on these kids, connecting with each of them, knowing every single student’s name and making each of them feel that they are important.”
“We often use not only our nursing skills, but mother, counselor, fixer of all things skills to help our students get through the day,” said Whitney Weems, nurse at Frenship High School. “I think a bizarre thing for me is having to argue with a high school student about whether they can stay at school with their 102 temperature, so they don’t miss class and get behind. I’m having to talk them into a free pass home when they are sick.”
Being a school nurse also has its set of challenges. There are societal issues that deter some students from functioning in class, as well as mental health issues that continue to rise.
“The most challenging part of school nursing is to see parental/societal issues that hinder students,” said Mousavi. “I try to instill responsibility in the child for their own health, no matter how young they are.”
The Frenship nurses are an inspirational group of women who chose a career of helping heal people and dedicating a lifetime to serving others. They are not looking for praise or recognition, but rather at the next success story of a student whose health is restored.
“When students are able to catch their breath and smile back at you … their hearts full of trust for you … that’s the best part of my job,” said Mikka Love, Legacy Elementary nurse.
“The biggest blessing and rewarding parts of my career have been the bonds and relationships I have formed with these kids,” said Hannah Ducas, nurse at Bennett Elementary. “My office has been a place of peace, healing, restoration and faith. It’s been a sanctuary for kids and adults. It’s not just a nurse’s office.”
“Most nurses get into this profession because they feel called to serve, to help and to heal,” said Box. “School nursing is no joke and a lot more demanding job than most people realize.”
When asked the question about choosing nursing as a profession, every Frenship nurse had a similar answer about how their career was ultimately a rewarding one.
“The most rewarding thing is definitely all the smiles and hugs from the kids,” said Alise Hutcheson, Upland Heights Elementary nurse. “They make you feel like a celebrity when you walk down the hallway. The parents say, ‘I don’t know what I would do without you!’ That is definitely what keeps me coming back every day.”
Next time you see a school nurse, remember to thank them for their service to students and everyone around them. It can be a thankless job, but they continue to love and serve the students of Frenship ISD every day.
Below is a directory of Frenship ISD’s nurses: