A Cherokee County School District school nurse has been honored by the Governor with the prestigious Georgia RISE (Recognizing Inspirational School Employees) Award!
Oak Grove Elementary School STEAM Academy School Nurse Nadia Jones is one of only two Georgians selected by Governor Brian P. Kemp for the award, which honors school support staff.
“Nadia Jones and Anna Singleton represent the best of our public schools,” Governor Kemp said; Ms. Singleton is a student information systems coordinator for Fayette County Public Schools. “They are among the heroes who worked hard to keep our students safe, healthy, and learning throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and I am honored to recognize these two outstanding Georgians with the RISE Award.”
Ms. Jones, who is in her fifth year as a CCSD school nurse, will be recognized by the Cherokee County School Board and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower at the School Board’s meeting later this month.
“The School Board and I are incredibly proud of Nadia for earning this honor,” Dr. Hightower said. “She is a hero among us and well-deserving of this State recognition. We deeply appreciate all that she does every day to ensure the health and well-being of her students, her colleagues and her community.”
As the 2020-21 winners of the Georgia RISE Award, they have also been submitted as Georgia’s nominees for the national RISE Award. In spring 2021, the U.S. Department of Education began awarding the RISE Award each year, to one full- or part-time school support staff employee who provides exemplary service to students in pre-kindergarten through high school. The governor of each state is invited to nominate up to two nominees annually.
Georgia runs a state-level process, the Georgia RISE Award, to select its nominees. All schools and districts were invited to submit a nominee for the Georgia RISE Award. Nomination forms were reviewed by a panel of judges composed of representatives from the Georgia Department of Education and numerous advocacy groups. The highest-scoring applications were presented to Governor Kemp, who made the final selection of two nominees. Employees in the following job categories are eligible for consideration for the Georgia and National award: paraprofessional, clerical and administrative services, transportation services, food and nutrition services, custodial and maintenance services, health and student services, technical services, and skilled trades.
“Over the last year and a half, I have witnessed heroic efforts from classified employees committed to providing a safe and productive place for every student to learn,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “From Ms. Jones’ work to keep students healthy and provide resources and support to families as a school nurse, to Mrs. Singleton’s efforts as her school district pivoted to virtual learning, these two employees are an inspiration. I am thrilled to see them recognized with this prestigious award.”
Ms. Jones in July was named the winner of the inaugural Cherokee County School District School Nurse of the Year award, sponsored by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. She also was named her school’s 2019-20 Support Staff Employee of the Year award winner as part of the annual CCSD recognition program. A former pediatric nurse for a pediatrician’s office, Ms. Jones earned her practical nursing diploma from Chattahoochee Technical College and is pursuing a bachelor of science in nursing degree from Indiana State University, with expected completion in December.
“Nurse Nadia,” as she is affectionately called, manages chronic illnesses, administers medications, performs first aid, fosters a healthy school environment, cares for students’ mental health needs, teaches lessons in the classroom, provides training on emergency preparedness, screens students for hearing and vision deficiencies, and answers questions throughout the day and night. Students, their parents, and the staff trust her skills, sound judgment, and loving care, Principal Penny Valle said.
“Nadia goes above her job requirements joyfully, and I often think of how she has made those requirements feel, sound, and look to the children,” parent Chelsey Queen wrote in a recommendation letter. “To them, it feels like a moment of love while giving an ice pack to a bumped noggin or a bandage to a scraped elbow. It sounds like getting to visit with a calming presence who helps dry their tears with a tissue and an encouraging conversation. It looks like a shoulder to lean on through emotional moments where they need to be seen, heard, and understood.”
Even in intense situations, Ms. Jones remains calm, collected, and in control. During an emergency health situation at the school, she directed staff members, cared for the student in distress, and compassionately checked on each person who was involved or witnessed the situation.
“Nurse Nadia consistently shows grace, empathy, and true care for all students and faculty members,” Assistant Principal Ashley Polito added. “It is an honor and a privilege to work with such an outstanding nurse.”