The nurse at Dempsey Middle School was recently named the Ohio Association of School Nurses (OASN) 2023 School Nurse of the Year.
Kelly Wagner has been the school nurse at Dempsey for nine years, and she served as the president of the OASN from 2020 to 2022, navigating the organization through the opening years of the pandemic. Wagner continues to be involved in OASN as chair of the OASN Education and Endowment Advisory Committee, and she has been involved in planning this year’s annual OASN Conference (April 14-16).
Wagner said she was “very humbled” by the award, adding it doesn’t belong to her alone.
“My colleagues on the board are who nominated me. … When your peers acknowledge the work that you do and the passion behind it, it’s really humbling,” Wagner said. “It’s definitely an honor, and I feel like overall, it’s a collective award. I don’t work in a vacuum. I don’t do what I do alone. It takes a lot of team effort and support staff, especially in this building, which is such a large building.”
Wagner added it does feel good to be recognized for the work that school nurses do.
“I’m a huge advocate for a nurse in every school,” she said. “So many people don’t know, don’t have any idea what school nurses do and why it’s a speciality practice. This is my passion, and this is what I’m committed to. I want to be excellent at it. There’s a general misconception that school nurses just do temperatures and band aids, and that’s it, but that’s far, far, far from the truth.”
Wagner will be presented with the award at the conference in April, and she added she’s looking forward to the event because her parents, husband, and children will be attending with her.
“I’m very honored,” Wagner said. “My peers on the board are all very supportive. It’s an amazing group of professionals that I’ve had the privilege to get to work with in that capacity. I feel like they make me better all the time. I’ve learned so much since I joined the board.”
Wagner said she “loves” her work as the school nurse at Dempsey and is particularly passionate about giving vision screenings to students.
“Being able to identify that child that’s struggling due to a visual deficit and getting them connected with resources is one of my favorite things,” she said. “Kids are resilient and accommodating, but they don’t always realize they can’t see very well until you point that out to them. That’s one of my favorite things to do.”
Wagner, who was conducting vision screenings with students on Monday, said she was thankful to get back to the evaluations since they were harder to do during 2020 and 2021.
Delaware City Schools Superintendent Heidi Kegley praised Wagner, adding the district was “delighted” to learn that she had received the award.
“Nurse Wagner is a compassionate and knowledgeable medical professional who is dedicated to providing the highest level of care to the students at Dempsey Middle School and Delaware City Schools,” Kegley said. “As our district’s lead voice within medical committees, we value her calm, thoughtful approach to each situation we have faced over the past few years as well as her passion for staff wellness. We are extremely fortunate to have Kelly on our DCS team!”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.