After nursing in a hospital setting for 13 years, Colleen Ziebol transitioned to school nursing full-time in 1993 at Valley View Middle School and has worked there ever since.
Raised in St. Cloud, Minn., Colleen received a degree in nursing from the College of Saint Benedict. “I was good at math and science and have a curious mind,” she said. “I wanted a career that allowed me to use my mind and stay on my feet.”
After having kids, Colleen decided to make the transition to school nursing. “It’s different than hospital nursing because in a hospital it’s more episodic, short term care where you see people for very short durations,” she said. “In schools you get to work with kids and see them for the long haul. You get to impact lives that way.”
It’s easy to think of a school nurse as someone who only has to deal with scrapes or coughs, however a major role of the school nurse is education. “We are kind of that ‘soft’ education,” Colleen said. “We teach kids about their bodies and are there as they mature during school.”
School nursing, while rewarding, does come with challenges, the biggest being the start of each school year. “Making sure you have everything ready for day one, going from zero to 1400 students, is not an easy task.”
These challenges are alleviated by the team effort at Valley View and districtwide. “Health Services is really a team at Valley View,” Colleen said. “I see health services as a kind of glue that ensures the health and safety for students to make sure they can take advantage of the education being offered. This community and the district recognize the value of health services.”
One of the highlights of school nursing for Colleen is working with kids who have chronic illnesses and nee more frequent care. “Those are the kids who really stick out to me,” she said. “I really enjoy building relationships with those students while helping them manage their health conditions.”
For School Nurse Day earlier this week, Valley View students’ appreciation for Colleen’s work in keeping them healthy and able to learn was evident in the number of cards she received. “The cards mean more than anything. Just to get kids saying thank you – it’s surprising to get things like that.” One of the cards read, “Thank you for helping us when we eat something gross and don’t feel good.”
Although she noted that she likes to stay in the background, Colleen said, “I feel that the designations of School Nurse Day is a testament to the pivotal role that school nurses play in promotion of student health so they are ready to learn.”
It's Teacher Appreciation Week, a week dedicated to thanking the teachers who continue to make a difference the lives of students everywhere. Read just a few of the stories from Edina Public Schools students and teachers, and tell us yours! We want to hear about how a teachers impacted your life. Tweet us your story @edinaschools with the hashtag #IAmEPS, or mention us in a post on Facebook. Let's show our teachers some love!
"Our teacher is like our mom in the classroom. Your mom loves and supports you at home, and our teacher does that at school." - Smriti D., Highlands 5th grader (right)
"One time my friend literally called her 'Mom.'" - Dia J., Highlands 5th grader (left)
I could never thank her enough. Nobody could ever repay her. All the teachers here take learning and make it really fun! This is a really loving community." - Smriti
|"Last year I had surgery, a few acutally, and missed a few weeks of school. My math teacher worked with me over lunch and after school to help me get back on track. He didn't have to do that." - Will K., Edina High School senior|
|"My high school English teacher, Ms. Johnson, was pretty intimidating before I had her. She had a dry sense of humor, but really brought out the writing skills in me. She was tough, but fun once you understood her. When I got to college, I wouldn't have majored in English if it wasn't for her. - Krista Winkel, Creek Valley Media Specialist|
"My choir teacher always teaches us about life lessons in class." - Lucy B., South View Middle School (left)
"My teachers are really encouraging. If you're not doing so well in a subject, they encourage you saying that you're still a good thinker, and help you figure out what you're best at." - Amy T., South View Middle School (right)
"I gave my teacher a card!" - Lev E., Highlands kindergartener (right)
"I gave her Reese's Pieces and a muffin! - Liam M., Highlands kindergartener (left)
|"I want to thank Ms. Jarrett and Sra. Trenda. They raise the quality of education here and always make a connection with students. They are always around to talk about school or life in general. I think they have impacted more students than they realize." - Eemanna R., Edina High School junior|
April is Autism Awareness Month, when groups work to increase understanding about autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, students at Creek Valley Elementary, who have had the benefit of being classmates with Sydney Raley, already know a lot about autism because she has taught them.
“It is my tradition to read a book to my class called ASD and Me,” Sydney said. She has ASD and is a bit of an expert. “Sometimes people don’t know what it means to have autism. They think it means you can’t speak, but autism has a spectrum and I’m on one side of it.”
Sydney feels it is important to share information about herself and ASD with her classmates during the first days of school. She has been helping her peers learn about ASD since kindergarten. “It is so they can get a feel for me, so if I am having a situation they will be able to find the perfect solution to help me,” she said. Sydney also gets a helping hand from paraprofessional Cyri Prescott, specifically during math and choice time when Sydney needs encouragement to stay focused on the tasks at hand. But some of Sydney’s schoolwork benefits from her unique take on things.
Having ASD means that “your brain thinks different than everyone else’s,” Sydney said. She has a talent for instant recall -- a photographic memory. Her mom says she has “super brain powers” and her dad calls her an “encyclopedia of knowledge.” One sign of autism can be to have a lasting and intense interest in specific topics. Sydney loves to focus her photographic recall of information on one of her favorite people in history -- Abraham Lincoln.
“My love for him started in first grade when I saw a ‘History Comes to Life’ performance about Lincoln. It changed my life forever!” she said. “I was like a sponge and wanted to get as many facts as I could.” She has visited Ford’s Theater and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. and looks forward to going to Springfield, Ill. some day. She can tell you how tall Lincoln was with and without his top hat on, and all of the jobs that Lincoln held, prior to becoming president. “I just thought, wow this guy had so much leadership and bravery to keep our country together during the Civil War.”
She also loves the music of Frank Sinatra, jazz and many other types of music and was moved by the recent death of Prince. Feeling the need to do something, her classmates helped her make posters to put on lockers in his memory. Another interest is cooking. She is a big fan of Master Chef and Chopped on the Food Network. “I hope to be on Chopped Junior some day,” she said. “I have a cake recipe that I would like to make…” And she can tell you the recipe and all of the measurements by memory, if you are interested.
Sydney said talking with others about ASD has been a positive experience. “It has worked mighty fine. All of my classmates help me and sometimes they even look up to me.”
Her advice to students, or anyone who is getting to know someone with autism, is pretty practical. “Don’t be afraid to be their friend,” she said. “You can learn a lot from a kid who has autism, such as interesting facts – like how you have 206 bones in your body.”
And she has words of wisdom for other students who have autism, too. “It isn’t bad to have autism. You are different, but everyone is different. If everyone was the same this world would be a very boring place!” she said. “Being friends with someone who is different is pretty nice. My name is Sydney and I am EPS!”