May 7th and 8th are National Teacher Appreciation Day and National School Nurse Day, respectively. We may not always stop to think about how many hours each week our children spend in the classroom but the fact is teachers and school nurses in particular, and school employees in general, are the people we trust our children to for the majority of their weekday waking hours. With public health becoming the number one focus of many of our elected officials determined to put the health care of our children into the hands of the government, the role of the teacher and our school nurses is increasingly important.
Today being a teacher is much about much more than reading, writing, and arithmetic. Today’s teacher is a multifaceted professional -- part surrogate parent, mentor, counselor, role model, and protector. In states like Florida, teachers may now apply to carry a gun in the classroom. What is being asked of teachers is ever increasing. Not only are teachers responsible for fostering growth and maturity in our children -- but for being vigilant about our children’s health and well-being during the school day.
The other key player in our children’s health and well-being is the school nurse. It has been a long time since the standard day for school nurses consisted of dispensing band-aids and calling moms to pick up children with sore throats. As the number of students of all ages with chronic health conditions has risen over the years -- the school nurse has become integral in the management of our children’s health care and mental well being. Today’s school nurses are being asked to be the vaccine police- they are required to call parents and badger them to get their children fully vaccinated. School nurses have reported to us that part of a school’s funding is now being tied to the level of full vaccination of their students. They are committed to providing the highest possible standards of care for our children but are being hindered by red tape and increasing government requirements.
Often teachers and school nurses are the first to identify potential problems, suggest interventions, and offer referrals to the appropriate health-care providers. Without their expertise and caring, not only would the health of our children be at risk, but also their academic success and lifelong achievement. Caring teachers and nurses facilitate positive responses in children to developmental issues, promote safety and health practices, and support self-management, self-advocacy, and learning when health challenges exist.
When it comes to the health of each and every child -- it does take a village. We just hope that village is working in the interest of our children’s best interest and not the pharmaceutical companies and big corporations that donate to our state and federal politicians. The only way to know is to get to know our teachers and school nurses. Befriend them, bring them gifts, ask them questions, and listen.
Hopefully, for more than one day a year, we are able to remember, acknowledge, and appreciate the people who play such crucial roles in our children’s lives. As we appreciate their support - so too will they appreciate ours. Share with them the Moms Across America studies and informational resources. Ask them what they need or if you can support them in any particular way. They are the stewards of our future. Let’s celebrate them!
Zen Honeycutt and the MAA Team