NSES’s Kelley named ‘School Nurse Teacher of the Year’

NSES’s Kelley named ‘School Nurse Teacher of the Year’

Marilyn Kelley, who has worked at North Smithfield Elementary School since 2004, was named School Nurse Teacher of the Year by the R.I. Certified School Nurse Teachers Association. (Breeze photo by Lauren Clem)

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Marilyn Kelley, longtime school nurse at North Smithfield Elementary School and Pawtucket native, was recognized as School Nurse Teacher of the Year by the Rhode Island Certified School Nurse Teacher Association, which announced the award last Thursday, March 7.

Kelley has served at NSES since 2004. She previously worked for 13 years at Burrillville High School, where she served as school nurse in addition to teaching courses, including “bio-related technology,” an original course she co-authored with educator Charles Boucher.

Kelley received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Rhode Island College in 1975 and master’s degree in education from RIC in 1992. She became a certified school nurse teacher in 1997, a designation awarded by the Rhode Island Department of Education. Prior to becoming a school nurse, she worked for 16 years at Memorial Hospital of Pawtucket.

Kelley, a Pawtucket native and resident of Providence, has been active in substance abuse prevention organizations over the years. She has also been recognized for her work toward ending sexual violence and support of the Rhode Island Blood Center.

Kelley, who was chosen for the award by a committee of her peers, told The Breeze she enjoys her work at NSES, especially the opportunity to interact with the families of former students.

“The wonderful thing is a lot of my students from Burrillville High School are parents in the school system and I have their children, so it’s wonderful to see what they’ve done in their lives,” she said.

She added school administrators and parents are very supportive of her work in the school and the community.

“The children are a delight. I think that’s what’s made my job so wonderful,” she said.

Jennifer Daigneault, principal at NSES, congratulated Kelley on the award and noted her kind demeanor and patience with every student in the school.

“There is no injury too big or too small for her tender, loving care,” she said. “When a serious situation occurs, Marilyn can easily make educated and calculated decisions with a smile on her face. We are so blessed to have such a dedicated and talented nurse taking care of our school community.”

Kelley has been involved with nursing since age 14, when she started as a “candy striper” volunteer at Memorial Hospital. While her nursing career stretches more than 40 years, she told The Breeze she’s not sure she would be able to give up the work in retirement, as she feels a personal calling to the profession.

“It’s a calling, and I love that. Once a nurse, always a nurse,” she said.