Faculty in Focus
Making a difference in a student’s day
by Celia Shortt
Schools are filled with people who want to make a difference in the life of a student or students, but not all of them are teachers or even other students. They are those who work behind the scenes, supporting the efforts of others.
Rhonda Smith, the nurse at Newnan High School, is one of those. Smith has been in nursing for 28 years, but became a school nurse seven years ago when her children went to college.
“I’ve always loved taking care of people even as a child,” she said. I always liked to see people who were sick get better.”
“I worked primarily with infants and kids and wanted to continue that in the school system,” she added. “As a parent of kids, I knew the system.”
As a school nurse, Smith’s job begins with taking care of the almost 2,300 students at Newnan High School and the 150 staff members. She begins each of their care with finding out why a student (or staff member) is sick and why he or she has come to the clinic.
“Some kids need some nurse counseling,” she said. “They need a few minutes to sit back.”
Smith said sometimes students just to need to talk. Smith also tries to impart life lessons to the students and the staff.
“I enjoy teaching proper nutrition for high schoolers,” she said. “You can’t think and learn properly without a proper meal. If any student comes to me hungry, I take them to the cafeteria and make sure they get some food.”
Smith stresses to them the importance of eating three well-balanced meals a day.
For the staff, Smith holds presentations on pregnancy, seizures, allergies, immunizations, concussions, healthy eating, and any other topic which arises. If any of the students need information on those topics, she will help them, too.
“I have a very high respect for the principals at Newnan High School,” she said. “I enjoy working for those who have such a high respect for their students and staff. You know when they call you about a student in a medical setting, they have the students’ best interests at heart.”
“Rhonda Smith is a compassionate and dedicated nurse who is patient with students and adults, conscientious concerning her job requirements, and dedicated to the safety and well-being of all who are in her care,” said Newnan High School Principal Chase Puckett. “She not only deals with day to day minor emergencies, cold and flu prevention, and routine medication administration, she also works to educate students and staff about the importance of safety and good hygiene. She is a great team player who also goes out of her way to take care of nearly 2,300 students and 150 adults.”
When she is not working at Newnan High School, Smith is either working a shift at the hospital, spending time with her family, or being involved at her church, First Baptist of Bremen, Georgia. She and her husband, Barry, have been married for 30 years and have three children.
Knowing I can make a difference in the school setting and can make the difference in a student’s day, that is the most fulfilling part to me, she said. “I just love what I do!”