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McGowen Elementary’s Shannon Hershberger is the 2019-2020 MISD School Nurse of the Year

Press Release|
Shane Mauldin|
Friday, May 8, 2020
The McKinney ISD school nurses share a message for students during the school closure: "Sing the ABC's. Wash your hands with soap, water and friction for 20 seconds! Stay home when you are sick! Clean and disinfect! Cover your cough and sneezes! Your 2019-2020 MISD school nurses love and miss you! Stay safe six feet apart." (Courtesy of Julie Blankenship)

The McKinney ISD school nurses share a message for students during the school closure: "Sing the ABC's. Wash your hands with soap, water and friction for 20 seconds! Stay home when you are sick! Clean and disinfect! Cover your cough and sneezes! Your 2019-2020 MISD school nurses love and miss you! Stay safe six feet apart." (Courtesy of Julie Blankenship)

McKinney, Texas – We take them for granted sometimes.

Until we get sick.

Or until a global pandemic turns the world topsy turvy. Then we see videos of nurses filling airplanes and flying into COVID-19 hotspots to serve the sick and to relieve weary colleagues. It stirs our spirit.

And, it reminds us that at the core of the nursing profession is a heart to love and serve others.

It’s what nurses do every day, whether they are dealing with the coronavirus — or a third-grader with a stomach bug. Their love and care never retreat. They never say, “That’s just too much. I can’t deal with that. I’m out.”

They take care of us.

It’s why McKinney ISD is pleased to call attention to our MISD school nurses by announcing the 2019-2020 MISD School Nurse of the Year—Shannon Hershberger from McGowen Elementary.

Hershberger has been with the district for the past 16 years of a 28 year career in which she has served in clinics and hospitals as a hemodialysis charge nurse, an ICU nurse and a cardiac care unit nurse. She came to Reuben Johnson Elementary in 2004 and worked there for 10 years before moving to McGowen, where she has served for the past six years.

She was chosen as the 2019-2020 School Nurse of the Year by a panel of her colleagues, and now she’ll go on to represent the district in the Region 10 School Nurse of the Year program.

“I am very humbled and honored to be chosen as MISD School Nurse of the year,” said Hershberger. “I am so grateful to do what I love every day, working with children and simply helping others. I love being a school nurse and see it as a calling, not just a job. I am so fortunate to work with wonderful leadership and a very talented team of school nurses.”

“She is the heartbeat of McGowen,” said Principal Kim Luyster in her nomination of Hershberger. “Her number one priority is to create a safe and loving environment where she strives to meet all of the medical and emotional needs of our students, campus staff and families.”

The needs that Hershberger and her fellow MISD nurses meet in the course of their work are legion. Any mental image of a school nurse sitting in a clinic wielding a thermometer and calling parents to come pick up a sick child is woefully uninformed.

MISD school nurses are all R.N.s and come from a dizzying array of medical backgrounds: NICU, orthopedics, pediatrics, ICU, CCU, labor and delivery, oncology, surgical, psychiatric, pediatric emergency and on and on.

In the school setting, they manage and care for a broad range of our children’s modern medical needs, following a framework of 21st Century School Nursing Practices. There’s a chart hanging on the wall in MISD Health Serves Director Julie Blankenship’s office that sums up five domains nurses are responsible for: standards of practice, care coordination, leadership, quality improvement and community/public health. And, under each section, there are a lot of bullet points.

Our school nurses serve students who take medication during the school day, who have diabetes or asthma or dangerous allergies, students who need assistance with feeding tubes or catheters. They complete routine hearing, vision and scoliosis screenings that can reveal serious underlying health issues.

MISD school nurses communicate frequently and are available to each other as resources, but the job requires someone who can work autonomously and make decisions without the immediate availability of a doctor, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner.

“A lot of the nurses are responsible for case management,” said Health Services Director Julie Blankenship, in an MISD interview last year. “They’re the liaison between the doctor and the parent or the hospital and the parent. We collaborate, we educate teachers on student medical needs because a nurse can’t be everywhere. So, we educate to make sure we have a medical safety net around all those kids,” Blankenship said.

“Nurse Shannon has made significant contributions as a leader on our campus,” said Luyster. “She currently leads the Campus Student Safety and the Campus Coordinated Health Team. She is also a leader beyond our campus, and takes pride in the opportunity to mentor other elementary nurses and nurse substitutes under the district title of Nurse Team Leader.”

In short, she’s pretty amazing.

Blankenship said that during the COVID-19 induced school closure, MISD nurses have been fielding questions from parents, returning medications, inputting regular state data and gathering resources related to COVID-19 and coordinated health for the MISD website. “Some have been working their secondary job as needed, outside of their contract hours, and some have volunteered to be COVID trackers,” Blankenship said.

But, every one of them would likely echo the sentiment expressed by Hershberger, “It has been extremely difficult to not see my McGowen family,” she said. “I miss seeing the kids’ big smiles, hearing their stories about their day and just helping care for their needs. I have been fortunate to attend some of the Zoom classes at McGowen to see the kids and the teachers, even if only to just say hello. I have to admit I do tear up when I see the kids. I truly miss my McGowen family!”

And, for a group of people whose lives revolve around moving toward people who need them, being separated from those they care for must be tough.

We know it’s tough for us.

Thank you, Nurse Shannon and all of our MISD nurses, for the unrelenting heart that you have to serve our students and families—for the way that you take care of us.

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If you need additional assistance with the content on this page, please contact MISD Communications Department team member Shane Mauldin by phone at 469-302-4007 or by email here .

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