Recognizing Our School Nurse on National Nurses Day


Carleigh Graham

Nurse Teresa Tate works in the clinic reviewing and update paperwork and tending to student needs.

May 6 is National Nurses Day, a day to recognize all nurses and their role in society. With COVID-19 putting healthcare workers on the front-lines, school nurses haven’t had it any easier. School Nurse Teresa Tate has no more “typical” days as “this has been a crazy year,” said Tate.
Students come to the clinic with headaches, sore throats and stomach aches, and it’s Tate’s job to help as well as log each activity. “I try to keep up with every student that comes in, every call that I make or receive, every email, every staff person and document,” said Tate. Additionally, each month, these reports have to be compiled and submitted to her supervisor as documentation. “There are so many other things I do in addition to seeing students,” said Tate.
Before the school year begins, Tate is busy at work, whether it’s checking immunization records and contacting parents or arranging the annual vision and hearing screening for sophomores and new students. Screening over 300 students each year, she has “to document the results, file the results and send letters to parents if students fail either screening. It is extremely time consuming and becomes a part of my day,” said Tate.
This year has added additional work for Tate in terms of contact tracing. She is glad the Virginia Department of Health guidelines allow students to return in-person, but recording COVID-19 positives and quarantines is “time consuming. Unfortunately, not everyone is forthcoming with information, and it is like trying to piece a puzzle together. It has been extremely frustrating at times. We do not enjoy sending people home, but we are trying to make it safe for others. It is a lot of information to keep up with and things change daily,” said Tate.
Tate attended Atlantic Chrisitan College, now Barton College, in Wilson, North Carolina. She decided she wanted to be a nurse in high school after developing an interest because her homeroom teacher, Guy Jean Farmer, was the health occupations teacher. “She was an awesome lady who portrayed nursing in a way that I wanted to be one just like her,” said Tate.
Before coming to FHS, Tate worked the night shift at a hospital in N.C. where she later worked with a cardiologist. Tate recalls one memorable night shift, saying, “I was making rounds. I entered the last room and found one of my patients standing beside his bed. This elderly gentleman was confused, and he had managed to get out of bed. I looked down on the floor, and he had left me a big present on the floor. I am sure you can imagine what he had done. In other words, he didn’t make it to the restroom. I asked him what he was doing. His reply, ‘I changed the oil from this car, to this car,’ motioning with his hands. My reply, ‘You certainly did.’ I laughed and proceeded to clean things up and get him back to bed.”
She got “married and moved to Virginia in 1995. After the move to Va., I worked in cardiology, family medicine and pediatrics. I took a few years off from nursing while my children were young,” said Tate. She then became a school nurse in Roanoke, Va., later coming to FHS where she’s been for four years.
Over the years Tate has made many memories and finds herself thinking she could write a book about her stories. She credits her success to another role model, her “Uncle Jimmy who inspired [her] to get off the dairy farm and follow [her] dream, to get an education and be anything [she] wanted to be.”
Tate likes working close to home and enjoys her colleagues and getting to know the students. “I enjoy being able to have just a simple conversation,” said Tate. While she doesn’t have a motto she tends to find herself often saying, “It is what it is.” Throughout the years Tate has found that “each day is an adventure. Sometimes it brings laughter and sometimes it brings tears.”