Where the 3 R's meet the 3 H's
Middle school can be a tough place for kids. As the school nurse for Crispell Middle School in Pine Bush, N.Y, Maggie Hyland knows this all to well. “It’s my job is to help students get through the day, so when they come in to my office, I try to find out what’s going on with them.” After 21 years on the job, Hyland knows it’s usually one of three things: their heads, their hearts or their hormones. “I call these the three H’s.”
Hyland wasn’t always a school nurse; she started her nursing career in a hospital maternity ward. During her 13 years as a maternity nurse, Hyland would sub as a school nurse from time to time. “I always liked working with kids,” she says. Eventually, she switched from caring for babies to caring for kids in their tweens.
Early on, she discovered the key to being a great school nurse: kindness. “If you treat the students with kindness, you usually get kindness in return.”
And Hyland is always there to lend a hand. One of the biggest challenges to her job is the economy and the effect it’s having on her students. Hyland isn’t shy about asking for help to meet the needs of her students. She reaches out to members of the community and business organizations for donations to help kids attend schools trips that their families otherwise could not afford. She’s procured winter coats for students in need. And she coordinates the holiday food baskets for Thanksgiving and Christmas; because of her efforts, as well as generous donations from the community, local families don’t go hungry.
For more than two decades, Hyland has been a “wish granter” for children helped through the Make-a-Wish Foundation. “She brings a little sunshine into their lives,” says one of her colleagues. And each summer, Hyland works as a nurse at Camp Warwick, which hosts campers ages 8 to 50 who have severe disabilities.
“It’s wonderful,” she says, “to see children learn to cope with their disabilities and learn to live productively.”
Hyland, who is a member of the Pine Bush Teachers Association, is also in charge of the local’s annual blood drive and chairs its Making Strides walk for breast cancer research.
Hyland “does so much more than give ice packs for playground bumps and bruises,” says a colleague. “She works tirelessly as a health professional, confidante and role model for the students.” [photos by Chet Gordon]