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County honors school nurses

School nurse supervisor Kim Berry poses with Megan Sales, who was named School Nurse of the Year. School nurse supervisor Kim Berry poses with Megan Sales, who was named School Nurse of the Year.

School nurses were honored by Henderson County Public Schools on National School Nurse Day Wednesday for the role they play in keeping students and staff safe.

 

Megan Sales of Hendersonville Middle School was named the 2020-21 School Nurse of the Year for Henderson County as part of the ceremony. Sales was nominated by her peers for the care she provides every day for her students and school.

“To be given the title of School Nurse of the Year truly is an honor after this challenging year during the Covid-19 pandemic,” Sales said. “I believe we have an amazing team of school nurses who embody the definition of this title each time they step on their own school campus. I am proud to be a Henderson County school nurse.”

In a typical year, school nurses care for students’ bumps and scrapes, perform vision screenings and manage the day-to-day needs of children with chronic illnesses along with many other duties. But in the past year, school nurses have been even more vital to keep schools open during the Covid-19 pandemic, carrying on additional duties to keep students and staff safe.

During yesterday's recognition ceremony at Henderson County Public Schools' central office, Superintendent John Bryant recognized that the school nurses' responsibility of delivering the often-unwelcome news about positive Covid-19 tests, contact tracing and quarantining determinations over this past year had to have taken an emotional toll on school nurses. But despite high tensions, unrelenting cases in the community, and increased workloads, school nurses continued to be the ones to relieve stress and anxiety in other people's lives, Bryant said.

"You've been the ones that have said, 'We're going to be your steady hand,'" Bryant said. "How awesomely fortunate we are as a school system to have each of you serving and supporting our kids. As superintendent, and more importantly, just as a member of this community, I am so grateful to each of you."

A native of North Carolina and graduate of A-B Tech and Western Carolina University, Sales went into home health after nursing school, working with the pediatric population. After two years, Sales’ friend encouraged her to apply for a school nurse position in Henderson County. Before beginning the job, Sales could count on her hands the number of times she had been to Hendersonville her whole life. But now, she said, it is difficult to imagine being anywhere else other than Henderson County.

“Words cannot express how grateful I am for the opportunity to work with my staff and students at Hendersonville Middle School each day and call myself a Bearcat,” she said. “I could not ask for a better staff and administration to stand behind me as I help my school nurse team represent what it means to be a public health nurse, caring for our students and staff day in and day out.”

School nurses who nominated Sales called her a team player who is always willing to help others. From case managing a terminally ill student who is one of her “friendly faces” to helping out in a girls group at the school, stories were shared about the love Sales has for her students.

“Megan has had a year for the books and in my opinion, she is one of the best nurses I have ever met,” one school nurse said in her nomination of Sales. “I have watched Megan give to her community, school, and to her students unconditionally for the last three years. This year specifically, Megan was pushed to her limits and she rose to the occasion with grace, compassion, and empathy.”

There are 18 full-time school nurses employed by the Health Department who work throughout each public and charter school in Henderson County. In addition to National School Nurse Day, May 6 through 12 also marked National Nurses Week to honor all who work in the profession.