During the COVID-19 pandemic, school nurses have played a critical role in keeping our school communities safe and ready to learn. From taking temperatures to facilitating COVID-19 tests, many school leaders pointed to the presence of a school nurse as one of the most effective ways to reduce instances of COVID-19 cases at their schools.
This year, for School Nurse Day as well as Mental Health Awareness Month, the Arizona Department of Education’s School Safety and Social Wellness team will highlight school nurses and their experience serving school communities in Northern, Central, and Southern Arizona.
Our first nurse is Jacqueline Hoeffler, the lead nurse at Dysart Unified School District.
My name is Jacqueline Hoeffler, RN, BSN and I am the Lead Nurse at Dysart Unified School District in Surprise, Arizona. I began my school nursing career at Riverview School in 2016.
Initially, I chose to work in a school because my own child struggles with an emotional disability. I felt that my experience as a nurse and as a parent who has been involved with special education services gave me a perspective that may be beneficial in helping both special education teams and parents communicate with and understand each other better. But, as I worked in a health office, I realized that this was a huge opportunity to engage in health promotion and prevention strategies with the students, staff, and parents. Each day I had many opportunities to teach self-care strategies to students, collaborate with parents and staff to address physical and social-emotional health concerns, and educate the community on disease prevention strategies. There is nothing better than celebrating with a student who has cared for him or herself after receiving health education or to ease the burden of a parent who is afraid or feels alone. And that’s the motivation. The wins. There are always going to be barriers or mistakes, but like I tell my staff and students, there is no such thing as a failure - only learning opportunities. Opportunities to make a difference in our own lives. Opportunities to make our community better through healthy physical or emotional choices. Opportunities to be a part of our community to share the burdens and the triumphs together and acknowledging that our community is what we choose to make of it. School nurses want to make a difference in the lives of the community - to be a change agent to build healthy communities through our efforts from immunization partnerships to community health education initiatives viewed and initiated through the lens of our students. I could not ask for anything more.