School Nurse of the Year Named
When we think of the people who contribute to a children's education we think of teachers and principals, but those often overlooked are school nurses.
This year nurse Carol Wilt is the "School Related Employee of the Year" in Alachua County. And she does more than put band-aids on scrapes and bruises, she often saves lives of her students who have special needs, and her students pay her back in kind.
A couple times a week Kristen Abernathy, now 22, returns to her alma mater Sidney Lanier Anchor School to help nurse Wilt in the clinic.
"She's amazing, when Kristin first came to this school she didn't talk, couldn't talk," says Wilt.
With the help of her school nurse, Kristin grew as a student into a responsible adult who now volunteers her time doing office work for Wilt. A testiment, says Abernathy's mother, to the commitment Wilt has shown in her 21 years at Sidney Lanier. "She's always giving Kristin encouragement and she loves her," says Gail Abernathy.
Wilt admits her job is serious but her approach is light-hearted. "It's a lot of responsibility but it's a lot of fun, we have a lot of fun here," adds Wilt.
Typically children go to the school clinic when they need medical attention, but there is nothing typical about Wilt's job.Each day, several times a day, she makes rounds making sure her patients --who are students from ages 3 to 22, get all the care they need to get through the day. And she's found clever ways to do her job, "Most need to be mixed in apple sauce hidden in food, play games sing songs to get it done," says Wilt.
And school principal Cathy Costello, acknowledges the importance of Wilt's commitment, "Everyday we live with the possibility that one of our students might have a life threatening situation that they may not survive," says Costello.
The 130 students at theschool have special needs, ranging in severity from down syndrome to Addison's disease and cerebral palsy. Though she's already been recognized by her school family, the school district has named her employee of the year.
"She has put her head her heart and her soul in her job," adds Costello.
A job that Wilt says gives as much to her as she puts in, the successes, she adds, are immeasurable, "Just to have a child reach out to us to have a child be able to hug is just to have a child say Carol after working 5 years with them is a huge success."
Wilt will go on to represent the school district in a state competition for best employee of the year, and she has a lot of students and parents and colleagues rooting for her.
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