Senior health aide Graciela Garcia knows all too well that her job at IDEA Public Schools entails a little of everything. She’s worked with our scholars for nearly a decade and earned her distinguished title as a senior health aide because of her consecutive track record of high performance and tenure.
“I love the kids and interacting with them,” said Garcia who works at IDEA Weslaco. “Sometimes they just need a friendly smile or someone to hear them out.”
This is why during IDEA’s Health Services Appreciation Week we’re recognizing the work of Garcia and the other 52 members of our health services team who collectively keep our scholars healthy and thriving in Texas.
“Our staff play an invaluable role in ensuring the safety and well-being of our scholars. They are the health professional on campus responsible for providing daily care in their clinics, educating students and parents on how to build healthy habits, and connecting families to resources to ensure students get the medical care they need to be successful in the classroom,” says Megan Heron, Director of Health and Wellness. “A health aide or registered nurse’s (RN) impact on a student’s life extends well beyond the school day and is only surpassed by their dedication to the work.”
Our health aides administer medication to students, ensure students with diabetes get the proper amount of carbs during breakfast and lunch, examine students who aren’t feeling well, and treat injuries that may happen during recess. They also make sure scholars are up-to-date on their immunizations and state-mandated health screenings.
They are also often a listening ear.
“They may just need a minute or two to destress because they are having a bad day,” says Garcia. “You reassure them, you motivate them, you encourage them through the day. We do a little bit of everything.”
Since March, when schools began distance learning, IDEA’s Health Services Team has been sending out messages to families and scholars about how to stay healthy and continuing to encourage all to follow the Center for Disease Control guidelines.
This year, every IDEA region in Texas has an RN on staff. In addition to running their campus clinics, RNs are available to support health aides in areas such as trainings necessary to address specific student needs like catheterization or insulin administration, and signing medical paperwork.
Jason Uche, Regional RN at IDEA Achieve, agreed with Garcia that witnessing students excel from one academic year to the next is what they appreciate most about their jobs.
“I get to watch them grow and mature, and that’s one of the best rewards of this job,” says Uche. “Kids learn to trust you and that they can talk to you about anything.”