School nurses: More than band-aids and boo boo’s

May 8, 2019, 6:35 am EST | Share:


When parents send their children off to school, they know they will learn from their teachers and play with their friends all day long. And sometimes, those children end up in the nurse’s office. Amid teacher appreciation week and the school year quickly coming to an end, I wanted to shine a light on the unsung heroes in our school systems. For National School Nurse Appreciation day, I looked into the lives of four special school nurses in Dorchester District 2 who are dedicated to providing a safe and healthy environment for all of their students. I listened to their stories, their hardships, and the milestones that have made them who they are today.

Summerville High School:


With Summerville High School being one of the largest high schools in the state of South Carolina, it takes two incredible women to take on the job. Nurse Kerry Murphy, who graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina, has been a nurse for 20 years. Nurse Heather Brown graduated from the University of South Carolina and has been a nurse for 21 years. Both have spent 3 years with the high school, tending to every child with care and expertise. Whether it is giving a student their daily medicine or responding to an emergency, these nurses deal with a variety of situations that could not be solved without them. They tackle this challenge together, knowing something different is going to walk into their door every day. Thankfully with the help of their administration and community, they can do much more, together as a team, to help their students.

Newington Elementary:

All of Newington Elementary is saddened at the fact that their nurse, Ellen Burns, will be retiring after this school year. She has spent 34 years as a nurse, and 22 years at Newington. When talking to her, I got to see first-hand how gentle and caring she was for her students. One of the reasons she loves being an elementary school nurse is the fact that the children are constantly absorbing information and learning in their environments, and she gets to see it every day. Ellen has seen everything from a small “boo-boo” to chronic illnesses. While sitting there talking to Ellen, several faculty members expressed their love for her and all that she does, not only for the students. She has seen generations of families going through the school, remembers every face, and says that it’s one thing you can’t get from being a nurse anywhere else. She expressed how saddened she would be when she has to leave, but she is looking forward to spending more time with her family and travelling with her husband.

DuBose Middle School:

Nurse Shellie Alumbaugh has been a nurse for 32 years, with 20 of them spent at schools in DD2. Nurse Shellie is the backbone of this school, with Principal Ted Brinkley describing her as “The best person to have for this job”. She juggles a hard job fixing physical problems as well as psychological, but she is always there to help the kids pick up the pieces, “I just wish I had a magic wand” said Alumbaugh. She specializes in critical care with experience as an ICU nurse, and DuBose is surely lucky to have someone like her for their emergencies. By day, she works as the passionate fixer-upper, but by night, she rolls out the mats and coaches the middle school wrestling team. She even recruits wrestlers just by sitting in her office and talking with the students. Nurse Alumbaugh handles a tough job but says she has a good feeling while working alongside the people who are willing to stand by her and help all along the way.

Nurses don’t go into their job field looking for praise or recognition, they go into the field because they want to help save lives. School nurses do more than provide band-aids and calls home to parents. They are challenged every day with a new problem, and it’s not always a skinned knee. They counsel, listen, and help. They are the reason why children stay healthy and safe at school. They are passionate, dedicated, and caring. They are the gentle hands saving lives every day. They are often overlooked, but on this day, I wanted them to know they are appreciated.

Take time out of your day today to thank a school nurse.