Earlier this year, HSC teamed up with Chicago Public Schools and the Office of Minority Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to present Heroes for Healthy Schools, a series focusing attention on the role everyone can play in ensuring that all children are able to succeed in school and live healthy lives. We invited our readers across the country to nominate individuals they see making a difference for kids’ health at school and in the community. Today, we are happy to spotlight one of the many Heroes for Healthy Schools you wrote to tell us about!
Samuel Jordan, Principal of Jesse Owens Community Academy, nominated school nurse Hortense Tyler as his Hero for Healthy Schools. He wrote:
"Our school is a pre-kindergarten through third grade school. Our students present a multitude of health issues, including asthma, diabetes, cerebral palsy and sickle cell anemia. Mrs. Tyler gives each case her special attention, often times coming to check on these students on days when she could be elsewhere. She is not required to tend to first-aid issues, but she does. She never says, ‘no.’ She also finds time to handle her special education responsibilities, as a member of our evaluation team."
We caught up with Mrs. Tyler to ask her more about her role as a school nurse.
Hortense Tyler has been a nurse for 37 years and a school nurse for 26. She covers staffing for nine different schools and may visit three to four schools on any given day. At Jesse Owens, she works with a specific group of students with diabetes or asthma whom she must see daily, so she arranges her schedule to accommodate many different students.
Like many school nurses, Mrs. Tyler believes that the role of the school nurse extends far beyond the outdated stereotype of giving ice packs and Band-Aids and focuses on supporting students’ learning and well-being. To her, a school nurse is “someone who is highly educated and is very well-prepared in the specialization of what school nursing is.” She said that the field of school nursing “has evolved tremendously over the years and our responsibility has grown as well.”
Though she does provide ice packs when needed, she also sees herself as an educator and works to make a difference in broad health issues in her schools, “to enhance what is happening in whatever school building I am in, whether that be as an advocate for the children or their parents.”
Kudos to Hortense Tyler for making a difference in the health of her students!