The HSC team put in a call to O’Fallon, Illinois to speak with school nurse Loree LaChance, a graduate of HSC's School Nurse Leadership Training, a program that prepares school nurses to take on leadership roles to promote wellness or environmental health in their schools. With more than 15 years of experience in obstetrics, LaChance decided to become a school nurse after substituting in schools.
“When I started this job, it scared the tar out of me, because it’s so far out of my comfort box,” she said. “It has been a fabulous learning experience and has helped me grow professionally.”
LaChance has served as a building nurse for K-5 grades at J.E. Hinchcliffe Elementary School for six years and has headed the district health services for three years. During a typical day, she tends to the expected bumps and scraps, but also ensures that the school district is meeting state-mandated policies and regulations.
With an undergraduate degree in nutrition in addition to her education and experience in nursing, the school nurse focuses on making health and wellness a priority. Loree has also worked with parents to create Healthy Kids Corner, a website with health resources for families. “I hope it inspires them to change or include something new into their everyday lives,” she said.
LaChance spearheads several projects to promote wellness in throughout the district. She works closely with food service to help her district meet the Gold standard set by the HealthierUS School Challenge. She is most proud of Hinchcliffe’s wellness walk, where the entire school walks a half mile. The school nurse also works closely with school food service providers and staff to work on ways to improve school food.
She encourages teachers to model the behaviors and habits they want the children to develop. Leading by example, LaChance bikes to work to demonstrate simple ways to incorporate physical activity into one’s daily routine.
LaChance discussed a mantra that she firmly follows. “Former Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders, 15th Surgeon General of the United States once said ‘you can’t educate a child that is not healthy, and you can’t keep a child healthy that is not educated.’”
LaChance hopes that people will seek her and other school nurses out as resources because, she explained, school nurses provide tools to help children lead healthier lives and solve problems.
“Eating right, having enough physical activity, and providing a healthy environment is important,” she said. “It goes so much farther than a band-aid.”
We are grateful to have Loree LaChance serve as a role model for wellness and advocate for health resources.