'People didn't realize what school nursing was all about until this year'

If Tallapoosa County wasn't already indebted to its school nurses, it was this school year to the women who checked temperatures, disinfected classrooms, and kept tabs on COVID-19 cases and quarantines.  

On Monday, the Tallapoosa County Board of Education formally honored its school nurses with a resolution and round of applause.

"I'd like to say something not just as a superintendent but as a grandparent and as someone who cares about all the children in our county," Tallapoosa County Schools superintendent Ray Porter said at Monday's board meeting. "A lot of times, the nursing profession, we call them unsung heroes. This year, they were not unsung. This year we recognize their value and appreciate their value more this year than we ever have in the past."

The show of appreciation came just in time for International Nurses Day on May 12.

District lead nurse Tammy Templeton also took the opportunity to thank her fellow nurses, sharing a conversation she once had with the late Tallapoosa County commissioner Bill Thweatt.


"He said 'Tammy, this school nursing thing, it's just boo-boos and Band-Aids and broken bones, right?' And I said 'No sir, it's way more than that.' So I started telling him all of the things that school nurses do — oxygen care, diabetic care, seizure management."

This year, Templeton could have added the COVID-19 pandemic to the list. She said she frequently thinks back on that conversation.  

"It sticks in my mind because a lot of people didn't realize what school nursing was all about until this year," she said. "(The nurses) stepped forward and they really showed what they could do. And from the bottom of my heart, I appreciate you girls, I really do."

Tallapoosa County Schools has seven school nurses, including Templeton, Tanya Branch, Jennifer Tharpe, Jean McCreight, Regina Newman, Attie Hayes, and Traci Kizziah.