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Tennessee Celebrates School Nurse Day on May 12

Monday, May 10, 2021 | 02:56pm


School Nurses Serve Tennessee Students Every Day & Through Pandemic

Nashville, TN— In celebration of National School Nurse Day on Wednesday, May 12, the Tennessee Department of Education is recognizing Tennessee’s over 1,600 school nurses, who support the health and wellness of Tennessee schools and students every day and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In honor of the celebration, Governor Bill Lee proclaimed May 12th as Tennessee School Nurse Day, which coincides with the birthday of 19th century health care advocate, battlefield nurse and Crimean War hero Florence Nightingale.

“With the challenges presented during the 2020-21 school year, school nurses have been true heroes, serving our school communities to ensure our students are healthy and able to continue learning,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “Their contributions have been critical to ensuring in-person learning continues and we give the best for all our students.”

School nurses provide services such as assessment, planning, care-coordination, critical thinking skills, quality improvement, health education and promotion which benefit schools, families, and children with acute and chronic health conditions. 

For tips and ways districts, schools, and community members can participate, the department has created a toolkit along with accompanying social graphics. Additionally, the department created a highlight video of school nurses from across the state. Click here to view a video from Governor Bill Lee, Commissioner Penny Schwinn, Lt. Governor Randy McNally, and Speaker Cameron Sexton on why they are thankful for Tennessee’s school nurses.

Throughout the state, district and school leaders have praised the work school nurses have done during this challenging school year.

   "Nurses at Hamilton County Schools play an essential role in keeping our schools operating. In order for our children to accelerate academically, they need to be healthy and well cared for. Our school nurses have always positively impacted the lives of our children, but this school year they have gone above and beyond to help us navigate educating students during a global pandemic while also keeping our students and staff healthy. We are so fortunate to have these HCS heroes on our team!" 

 - Dr. Bryan Johnson, Director of Schools, Hamilton County Schools

"We are so grateful for our school nurses and the commitment and dedication they show each and every day. This past year has brought about very challenging demands on our staff, and they have met and exceeded those in a remarkable way. Unicoi Schools appreciates our school nurses and all they do for our staff and students!"

- John English, Director of Schools, Unicoi County Schools

“I would like to thank all our school nurses for everything they do. They always do everything in their power to meet the needs of students whether it is providing clothing, food, etc. while also providing one on one service for every student that enters their office. Our nurses make our students feel like they are the most important people in the entire building."

- Dr. Jeanny Phillips, Director of Schools, Oneida Special Schools

“Millington Municipal Schools could not truly take care of our children without our AMAZING nurses.  In MMSD we have a saying, “Family takes care of family. Our nurses are the aspect of the family that tends to our students’ health issues every day.”

- James Bo Griffin, Director of Schools, Millington Municipal Schools

“In what has indeed been an unprecedented year, our school nurses have played a vital role in (Clarksville Montgomery County School System’s) success in keeping our buildings open for our students.  They have stepped up, stood out and shined and I have never been more proud of them.”

- Danielle Kriminger, BSN, RN, NCSN, Nursing Supervisor, Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools 

“I can’t thank our school nurses enough for their hard work and dedication this year.  They went above and beyond every single day to ensure the safety of our students and staff.  I could not ask for a better group of nurses to work with.  They are truly amazing!”

- Liz Sumpter, BSN, RN, Health Services Coordinator, Bristol, Tennessee City Schools

“In Macon County, our students have been attending school in-person, 5 days a week, since August, with not one school closure due to COVID. Our school nurses had their first COVID quarantine on the very first day of school and have been doing it ever since (while still doing all their other job responsibilities). They are all physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted, but are still here for our students, faculty and staff every single day. I cannot brag on them enough. Absolutely resilient!” 

- Casey Brawner RN, BSN School Nurse Supervisor, CSH Coordinator, Macon County Schools

“I would like to take this time to thank all of our Johnson County School nurses for all their hard work and support during this difficult year. Their strength and dedication to our students and staff has amazed me. I can’t put into words how proud I am of each and every one of these ladies.”

- Shannon Wood, LPN, CSH Educator, Johnson County Schools

“The past year has been a challenging — and interesting — year. As school nurses, they found themselves removed from the clinics within the schools and reinvented the way they work with our students — whether virtually, in the classroom, or in a hybrid world. Our nurses are contact tracers, infectious disease experts, mental health advocates and staunch advocates for the health and safety of our schools and our communities. Students are the heart and soul of what drives the nurses.”

- Heather Ledbetter, CSH Coordinator, Maryville City Schools

"Our school nurses worked tirelessly this year to navigate the choppy and ever-changing waters of COVID. They not only assisted our district with plans to be able to safely start the school year in-person but helped keep the doors open and achieve the ultimate goal:  finishing the school year in-person. Their diligence to assist students and families affected by COVID has been unwavering.  We are truly blessed with the best Nurses at Milan Special School District.”

- Kate Smith, CSH Director, Milan Special Schools

“I want to thank all our nurses for their hard work this year! Not only have they worked long hours for contact tracing, but also we have had to endure a few tragedies along the way! We have had a terrible bus accident that claimed two lives, family deaths, and just personal struggles along the way. As a group we have all made it work all year! We are all excited for the years to come, and excited that this year is ALMOST over! 

- Ashley Hurst, RN, Lead Nurse, Meigs County Schools

“I am so blessed to be working with such a knowledgeable, dedicated nursing staff team. They truly keep the best interest of the students, staff, and community in mind with everything they do. I want to personally thank them for showing up every day for their students and staff.”

- Madison Branham, RN, Nursing Coordinator, Oak Ridge Schools

“Arlington is fortunate to have a school nurse in each school building. Our school nurses play an integral role in bridging health and education to improve each child’s cognitive, physical, social and emotional development, regardless of whether they are physically present in school or not. As we say here in Arlington, TN our nurses are #ArlingtonAwesome!” 

- Dana Viox, BSN, RN, CSH Specialist, Arlington Community Schools

“The school nurses for Washington County Schools are truly exceptional. I honestly do not have words to adequately describe their commitment to serving with compassion! This school year has been challenging to say the least and yet, each nurse continues to be flexible, lead with a servant's heart and serve with passion!  They truly represent Florence Nightingale's vision for our profession!”

- Kelly Wagner, RN BSN, CSH Director, Washington County Schools

Find additional information about Tennessee’s school nurses in the Annual School Health Services Report.

For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact