Bennett County School District School Nurse Marie Huether was thrown a surprise assembly May 3, at the Martin Grade School Activity Center, where it was announced she was named the South Dakota School Nurse of the Year, known as the Excellence In Nursing Award. The award is presented by the South Dakota School Nurse Association.
Marie admitted she definitely was surprised, being told there was a health assembly she was to attend, then walked in to a room filled with students, staff, friends and family there to congratulate her.
“I feel very honored,” said Huether. “I enjoy working with the children and the staff here in Martin.”
“I was very surprised and had no idea,” she remarked. “I thought it was supposed to be a health assembly and was going to go sit down when Stacy (superintendent) grabbed me and said, you need to sit up front...this is for you.”
Bennett County student Luta Keegan gave a nice talk about Marie, thanking her for all she has done for her and the other students.
Former co-workers Randi Oviatt, Colleen Ohrtman and Sharon Rank from Sturgis were on hand to greet Marie and honor her with the award.
“It was nice of my friends from Sturgis to attend. Randi and Colleen trained me and are excellent school nurses themselves.”
Huether has been a school nurse for the past 19 years, the first three in Sturgis and the past 16 at Bennett County. Bennett County had dropped the school nurse program, but then superintendent Chris Anderson heard Marie was moving to Martin with her family and asked her if she was interested in starting it back up. That was in 2001 and she has been the school nurse since.
Prior to becoming a school nurse, she worked as an RN in hospitals since graduating from Montana State University in Bozeman with a B.S. in Nursing in 1985.
“I really enjoy my job as a school nurse and the people around Martin are very supportive,” said Huether. “It is important to have a school nurse to meet the health care needs of the students that only a nurse can provide. The school had tried to do without one prior to us moving here and they said it did not work out well and cost the district more money too.”
At Bennett County, Marie teaches the use of the Epi Pen and AED every fall. She also teaches CPR. The Board of Nursing mandates that those that administer medications in school must complete a twenty hour medication administration course. She has taught that course to secretaries and paraprofessionals. Marie completes vison and hearing screenings, refers and follows-up on the students who fail the screenings. She offers assistance if needed to families. For the students who have a health care need and qualify for a 504 Plan, she facilitates the meetings and develops and implements a health care plan.
She also completes the kindergarten screening in the spring for the kindergarten students that start the next fall. She guides the parents of needed immunizations and completes heights, weights, and vision exams for the excited kindergarteners. In the spring, she teaches growth and development to the 4th and fifth grade students. For students that have special health care conditions, Marie develops a care plan and communicates that plan to parents, students, and staff as needed. If a student has an allergy, she is fastidious about communicating about what to do if an allergic reaction occurs.
Mrs. Huether has always been a member of SDSNA and NASN. For the state she has served on various committees. For many years she has co-chaired the SDSNA fundraising committee.
Just like all school nurses, Marie is involved with research. When there is a diagnosis on a child that she needs to develop a care plan for, she goes to great lengths to find our all that she can so that she implements the best care possible for that child.
The mission of the South Dakota School Nurse Association (SDSNA) is to promote and advance the need, value, and importance of nursing and health services in the educational environment.
The goals of SDSNA are to promote and advance quality school health services and health education throughout the state, and to work toward the promotion of high professional standards for school nurses.
The objectives are to motivate school nurses to be active and visible in community settings, promote positive school nurse leadership and provide educational opportunities for members and the community at large.
Huether will be honored and awarded a plaque at the South Dakota School Nurse Association Conference in July 10-11 in Chamberlain.