It is difficult enough being a nurse, but being an exceptional school nurse requires special talent. The primary focus remains on medical care; but, as society has shifted, the nursing position has demanded even more. School nurse Carol Beck is a shining example of all that a school nurse could hope to be. Students flow through her office in an unending stream. While the rest of us want to dash in the other direction when we witness the deluge, Carol steps up to the plate and treats each of them with patience, dignity, and compassion. Sometimes teachers send students to Carol when they are in emotional distress, and Carol applies the same tenderness. She is also in the position of treating and counseling the professionals who have medical questions. Carol’s warmth and understanding draw them to her. Once, after she delivered her diagnosis to me, she suggested I make an appointment with my physician. He’s a skeptic, so he surprised me during my doctor’s visit by praising her and asking her name. I have always trusted her judgment; I know I am not alone in that. Furthermore, the state and school district require careful record-keeping. Carol has occasional help, but the bulk of the work and the responsibility of the final product rest firmly on her shoulders. Many years ago when the role of drama director nearly disappeared because no one was willing to take it on, Carol volunteered. This dynamo works well with the entire school population; and, on at least one occasion, she managed to incorporate the skills of an autistic student into an important role.
I retired about a year ago, and one of my few regrets is not having daily contact with Carol. In the fall I was told I had kidney cancer. Carol drove me to Beth Israel for about half of my appointments. It was extremely beneficial for my medical treatment to have a nurse by my side, but Carol also proved to be such fun and treated the trips as adventures. She also volunteered to be my medical proxy. She has a great husband and two wonderful twentyish kids. Her dogged determination, no matter how fatigued she is, to do the best by them is awe inspiring. Those of us who know and love Carol feel sure she is secretly an angel in human form, gracing us with her presence in order to care for us for a while.
—Nominated by Joanne Barrow