Someone You Should Know: School nurse advocating for health and caring for students

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Published: May. 5, 2022 at 5:14 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - For 23 years Carrie Clarke has been going above and beyond for her students as a school nurse.

Today she is the school nurse at Washington high school.

“School nurses wear many hats, as many of our staff do, but we do a lot of social work and work with the social worker and counseling, and so we kind of do a little bit of everything,” said Carrie.

“Some people think that we just sit here and hand out band-aids or fix little boo-boos, it’s a lot more than that,” said Carrie.

She received the Excellence in School Nursing Award from the South Dakota School Nurse Association in 2019.

“She’s just an awesome human being, she has a big heart, and she brings a lot of positivity to the office. The students just love her,” said Washington High School Admissions Counselor Karmin Jensen.

She has an open-door policy, letting students know they are free to talk to Carrie about anything.

“It can be heavy stuff, and a lot of things that you deal with, but they need that. They need someone to talk to. They need to be able to have a resource. They need to finally tell someone their story about what happened in their life,” said Carrie.

“She has such a good rapport with our students, they feel so comfortable when they come into our office to have discussions with her,” said Jensen.

She is passionate about building lasting relationships with students and checking in with them.

“Really important to get to know the kids, you just never know what that child is dealing with at home,” said Carrie.

Her heart is open to foster children, inviting many to join her family over the years.

“We foster, we have foster children and it’s just about, you know, it’s never the kids’ fault when they have been brought into foster care, an extreme measure usually that they have to go into the foster system. They just need love,” said Carrie.

“You can tell right off the bat how big her heart is with how many kids that she has fostered and then having to take care of 18-hundred kids here at the school. She’s just an amazing person,” said Jensen.

Her colleagues describe her as selfless, always putting the students first.

“Students are her number one priority,” said Jensen.

Carrie explains what she experienced being a school nurse during the pandemic.

“I think what we’ve seen is a lot more mental health concerns, kids not being able to be connected while being at school,” said Carrie.

Carrie will continue to be a light for Washington High school, encouraging and supporting every student who steps into her office.

“I have kids I see outside of school a couple of years after they graduate and they’ll tell me, ‘You know I really wasn’t sick when I came down,’ and I’m like, I know,” said Carrie.

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