Celebrate Cobb’s Healthcare Heroes on National School Nurse Day!

National School Nurse Day

The Cobb Schools team includes about 160 healthcare heroes, and they all deserve to be recognized on National School Nurses Day on May 8. Cobb’s school nurses help bridge the gap between healthcare and education, helping boost student success. Their roles extend far beyond supplying bandages and taking temperatures. They are heroes without capes. 

Several Cobb school nurses put their life-saving skills to work this year, including Mary Louise Weeks, Dodgen Middle School; Gini Ezernicks, Mountain View Elementary School; and Sandy Evans, Walton High School. Thanks to the training Angie Mitchell gave cafeteria staff at Varner Elementary School, they were able to save a child’s life when the child was choking. 

Powder Springs Elementary School students have a jumpstart on staying healthy because their school nurse, Beth Strickland, performs handwashing classes and heart health classes at the school. 

Cobb school nurses pursue professional development opportunities so they can continue promoting healthy living and improve academic success. For example, three school nurses attended the American Red Cross CPR Instructor Course sponsored by Project SAVE at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta: Tamuriel Sanford, Lindley Middle School; Shannon Vance, Pebblebrook High School; and Natalie Burse, South Cobb High School

Cobb’s school nurses started the school year with their annual professional learning kick-off session that focused on the importance of the School Nurse’s role in Code Red and Medical First Response Drills, selection of and training members of First Responder Teams at all schools, the role of and how the School Nurse works with Cobb Fire & EMS, ambulance services, and the importance of and training school staff on Stop the Bleed. 

“The intentional focus on emergency preparedness as a team through awareness, training, and drills has helped ensure our schools are prepared and able to respond quickly to emergency situations and keep our students and staff safe,” said Melanie Bales, Cobb Schools assistant director of student support and district school nurse administrator. 

The impact of school nurses extends beyond the school day. Smitha Middle School’s Gracie Adams established a weekend backpack program and partnered with a local church to provide those students with backpacks full of non-perishable foods. She also applied for and received the Cobb EMC Mini-Grant for $500 and used all those funds to support this program. She identifies the students in need and partners with their parents to ensure they are completely supported on weekends and breaks – even during summer break. 

South Cobb High School’s Natalie Burse assists with coaching the women’s softball team. Mableton Elementary School’s Kim Churchill facilitates the Kindness Club and the Junior First Responder Club to support student mental health and safety. At the same time, Leslie Kitchen sponsors Kennesaw Mountain High School’s Future Health Leaders of American Club (FHLA) to assist students with volunteer projects and organize speakers for the group. At North Cobb High School, Fikera Gerald sponsors the Black Student Union, helping organize speakers and hosting Black History Month activities. 

The following school nurses have been selected as the Classified Employees of the Year for their schools: 

  • Rhonda Weygandt, Due West Elementary School
  • Carrie Whitman, Durham Middle School 
  • Cricket Randall, Pickett’s Mill Elementary School 
  • Kelly Everden, Tritt Elementary School

First-year school nurse Carrie Duff earned the 2023-2024 School Nurse Award from Bells Ferry Elementary School PTSA. 

McCleskey Middle School is home to the District’s longest-serving school nurse. Becky Slade has helped keep Cobb students healthy and ready to learn for 24 years! 

The four school nurses bidding our students farewell this year are retiring with a combined 70 years of their careers caring for students in Cobb Schools.