The Georgia Association of School Nurses (GASN) was founded in 1991 in a goal to bring together school nurses dedicated to providing superior care to school children. Nurse Martha attends the state conference each year and received her prestigious honor at the 20th Annual GASN Conference held in Peachtree City July 9 through July 12.
Ava Ellis, one of Nurse Martha’s coworkers at Buchanan Primary School, began the campaign to nominate her for the award. The goal was to keep the nomination a secret, but Nurse Martha caught on when the assistant principal began to ask her for some very particular, personal data. She says she had truly forgotten she was even nominated, that is until she heard her biographical information being read at the conference. Showing off her plaque, tiara, and sash that come with the honor, Nurse Martha said, “It’s really such a nice honor to be selected by your peers and know it was statewide. This award is truly one of the highlights of my life.”
Before nursing, Nurse Martha spent 30 years as the human resources manager for a company in Waycross, Ga. When the company was sold, Nurse Martha found herself unemployed. She decided it was time to reinvent herself. Serving so many years in the HR field, she was experienced in health and safety management, CPR certified and trained as a First Responder. She began working in the HR department of a small hospital but wanted to do more to help the patients directly. She decided to go back to school and become a nurse. When talking about her time in school, she laughed saying she stuck out, being the oldest one in class.
Nurse Martha first began her career in school nursing as a substitute nurse for the Haralson County School System in the fall of 2006. After making rounds at all the schools for her first year, she was assured she wanted to work with smaller children. She taught Sunday School for years, and said she loves that age group.
After a year, the main nurse at Buchanan Primary stepped down, allowing Nurse Martha to pursue her dream job, all the while attributing her path to divine intervention. When talking about her work with the children, she smiled and said, “I love where I am, and I love what I’m doing. I don’t have any children of my own ,so I feel like God saved me and blessed me with 500 all at once.”
Haralson County School System Superintendent Brett Stanton recently honored Nurse Martha at the August board meeting and described her as “an exemplary school nurse.”
“She goes above and beyond in all her areas of service, doing work in the classroom, sponsoring school wide contests, and serving as the chairperson of the GASN’s Cancer Task Force,” said Stanton. “She is so adored by the children of the Buchanan Primary School that last year, she became the first school nurse in the Haralson County School System to have her school’s yearbook dedicated to her.”
After a handful of children came into her office for some TLC, Nurse Martha said, “I give them hugs and tell them we need to fill our love banks, and that is how we do it.”
She reported that often children will come into her office for the sole purpose of filling their love bank or helping Nurse Martha fill hers.