SNOM 2019 School Nurse of the Year
Ellen J Parker BSN, RN, LSN, PHN
The School Nurse Organization of Minnesota is pleased to announce Ellen Parker, BSN, RN, LSN, PHN of Lakeville Area Schools (ISD 194), as the 2019 School Nurse of the Year. This honor recognizes one Licensed School Nurse annually who emulates the profession of School Nurse. Nominated by her peers, Ellen is most worthy of this honor, evident by her outstanding School Nursing practice.
Ellen began her career in school health services in the Lakeville Area School District in 2003 as a Health Assistant. In 2016, Ellen accepted a position as a District Nurse, and she is now responsible for planning for the health needs of over 3,800 students at two middle schools and one high school.
In her schools, district, and community, Ellen has lead the way to promote student safety. She is in charge of training building nurses, monitoring emergency equipment, and coordinating the EpiPen4Schools® program in her district. She was instrumental in revising the district’s medication policy and developed a student information system manual for her district’s health services department to promote consistency in charting practices across the district.
Ellen has worked tirelessly to advance the role of school nurses in her district. In 2015, with the support of the director of special education, she presented a proposal to the school board to reclassify the district’s Health Assistant position as a Building Nurse position to reflect the qualifications of the Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs) in those roles.
For the last six years, Ellen has also partnered with the Director of Nursing at Augsburg University to provide public health practicum experiences in schools. Ellen’s role includes giving a presentation to nursing students on the changing role of the school nurse. She also represents and advances the school nursing profession as a volunteer at Urban Scrubs Camp, where high school students are introduced to health care career options through hands-on activities.
Ellen’s collaborative partnerships have had lasting impacts on her students and colleagues. One principal writes, “Ellen is highly effective in bringing people together to take a team approach.” She worked with the health teachers at her middle school to begin teaching Hands Only CPR as part of the curriculum. Ellen currently trains about 700 students annually and was able to facilitate the training of an additional 135 staff members as well.
The parents, students, and principals Ellen works with describe her as a nurse with an outstanding work ethic, caring demeanor, and fierce advocate for student safety and confidentiality. Congratulations to Ellen Parker for her excellence in School Nursing and service to the community she serves and her profession.
SNOM 2019 School Nurse Administrator of the Year
Tara Cliff MPH, BSN, RN, PHN, LSN
Tara Cliff, Health Services Supervisor for Eastern Carver County Schools (District 112), has been named the 2019 School Nurse Administrator of the Year by the School Nurse Organization of Minnesota (SNOM).
Tara has worked in pediatric nursing care for over 20 years. After working in a children’s hospital and local pediatric clinic, she began her career in school health services in 2005 as a Licensed School Nurse. In 2013, after completing her Masters in Public Health, Tara accepted a job as the Health Services Supervisor for District 112.
Currently, Tara manages a team of 21 nurses in her rapidly growing district of nearly 10,000 students. Over the past few years, Tara has implemented a systematic evaluation of the district’s nursing staff using the Danielson Framework for School Nurses. As coordinator of the District Emergency Management Team, Tara worked to update the district’s emergency procedures, including working with building administrators, crisis team leads, and the communications department. She also serves on the district’s special education leadership team to help coordinate and implement the third party reimbursement system for Eastern Carver County Schools.
In 2015, Tara and two nurses from her district were accepted as Johnson and Johnson School Health Leadership Program Fellows. In 2016, Tara worked with a colleague enrolled in a Doctorate of Nursing Program to explore barriers to healthcare services and the cultural competence of health services staff. She partnered with her district’s Intercultural Specialists to provide professional development opportunities for nursing staff in her district, and she and her colleague recently learned that their peer-reviewed article will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of School Nursing.
Tara coordinates the Infinite Campus Health User Group for the metro area, served at the SNOM Secretary from 2016-18, and strives to build the capacity of new school nurses as an organizer and presenter at the annual SNOM School Nurse Orientation. She also works with the Crown College Nursing Program to provide shadowing experiences for student nurses in the school setting and demonstrate the relationship between school health and public health.
Collaboration with community stakeholders has been key to Tara’s success as a school health services leader. Tara frequently collaborates with Carver County Public Health to provide resources for students to obtain low or no-cost medical care, and she partnered with Ridgeview Medical Center to develop a voucher system so that students could access virtual care for minor illnesses at no cost. In 2018, Tara was invited to join the Executive Board for the River Valley Nursing Center, a non-profit nursing center that provides health-related services to vulnerable individuals and families.
As noted by a colleague, “[Tara] is energetic, has a positive attitude, and is just fun to be around. Her passion for her work and the students, staff, and community is evident.” Congratulations to Tara Cliff for her excellence in School Nursing Administration and service to her community and profession!