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Terri Shultz named 2023-2024 UCPS School Nurse of the Year

Terri Shultz, the school nurse at Marvin Elementary, was named the 2023-2024 UCPS School Nurse of the Year on May 8, which coincides with National School Nurses Day. Amidst resounding applause and celebratory cheers from peers, central office leadership, and staff, she received the award. Shultz expressed gratitude for the recognition and the support of the school community she serves.

"I am very honored and humbled. I never think of myself in this way. I don't brag or boast about myself. The whole process of having to write about myself and to interview was difficult," said Shultz. "I've done a lot of nursing in 23 years and this group of school nurses is amazing. I love my job. I have wonderful bosses, including the 750 bosses I have under the age of 12. I am lucky to be part of this team."

Shultz has been working as a school nurse for over eight years, during which she has been deeply committed to embracing diversity and understanding the unique healthcare needs of culturally diverse individuals. She developed a passion for community health early in her career due to her background in public health. Shultz is a National Certified School Nurse and holds a Masters in Nursing.

"I was fortunate to return to school nursing with a broader perspective of students at Marvin Elementary. Our school has many home languages and cultural practices, in addition to diverse healthcare needs," she said. "I work with students, staff and families that all deserve respect for their personal beliefs and values."

At the core of Shultz's approach lies a commitment to creating the holistic well-being of her students. She has introduced innovative strategies to address physical and mental wellness. One notable initiative is the De-stress Basket, providing students with resources to alleviate stress and promote emotional resilience. Additionally, Shultz utilizes humor and relaxation techniques, such as the breathing ball, to effectively manage emotional distress.

"The De-stress Basket has pop-its, stress balls and small toys the children can use for playing and relaxing. Sometimes, students don't need to go home; they just need a moment away. They come and use the toys or the compression ball to get themselves together before returning to class," she said. 

In addition to her clinical expertise, Shultz is known for her exceptional interpersonal skills and leadership within the school community. She adeptly navigates challenging situations with professionalism and prioritizes safety above all else. Her collaborative approach ensures a secure and supportive environment for all students and staff at the school.

"I work with students and staff daily that require support and guidance for a variety of chronic health conditions, including their mental health," she said. "I took extra time at the beginning of the year to reinforce the management of health emergencies to ensure our teachers feel confident and safe in their classrooms. Keeping our teachers well-informed of student health conditions allows their focus to be on teaching."  

"When you walk into Marvin, there is a banner that says, "Family," and Terri exemplifies what that banner stands for. She doesn't just take care of the kids, she takes care of the staff and parents," said Principal Dr. Scott Spencer. "She is a big part of our family. She is also a wonderful communicator and follows up. She is fun to be around and has a heart of gold, but works hard. Marvin means family, family means Terri."

Besides her role as a school nurse, Shultz also serves as a faculty member at South Piedmont Community College, contributing to improved nursing education and enriching the healthcare profession.

Susan Mastin from Weddington High and Amy McAteer-Jones from Antioch Elementary were also finalists for School Nurse of the Year. All three finalists embody the qualities of a school nurse, including compassion, leadership and dedication to the health and well-being of students and staff.

“Thank you to all our school nurses for all you do for our schools, families and communities. As a former elementary principal, I know how valuable you are to our students and staff,” said Superintendent Dr. Andrew Houlihan. “Congratulations to all the finalists. Special congratulations to our School Nurse of the Year winner. After reading excerpts from your application, the three notable priorities you put forth each day are physical, mental and emotional health. The three themes that emerged were collaboration, a sense of community and overall well-being of the students, families and staff members.”