Waitsfield resident and Waitsfield Elementary School nurse Sue Dillon was named Vermont School Nurse of the Year at a ceremony in Burlington on October 21.

She was honored by the Vermont State School Nurses' Association.

"Susan Dillon has been a cornerstone of the Waitsfield Elementary School for the past 11 years. In addition to masterfully managing the various components of her job as school nurse, Sue additionally is a leader in many capacities in our school and supervisory union. She is a tremendous asset to our school and community and a model of what a school could hope for in a nurse," wrote school Principal Kaiya Korb of Dillon.

"Sue masterfully brings together the many components of the job. She develops respectful, caring relationships with students and colleagues and is a thoughtful guide in assessment and responding to the health needs of all. From helping a student make a food chart to monitor consumption of healthy foods to guiding families as they work through an infestation of lice, Sue's calm, wisdom and ability to hear the needs of individuals is just what one would hope for in a health care provider. The responses to the daily health concerns could consume all of one's day, but Sue does so much more. Additionally, she provides health instruction, working in conjunction with the school counselor to insure that a personal development curriculum is delivered to students. The skills sets to effectively teach large groups and respond to individual health needs do not necessarily overlap, but both can be found in Sue. Sue makes it a priority to attend 504 and IEP meetings of students with particular health needs - she is a great student advocate and helps us always keep the whole child in mind," Korb noted.

Dillon said when she first started working at the Waitsfield School she had no idea what it would be like to be a school nurse.

"There is very little school nurse training as it mostly involves on-the-job training," Dillon said this week.

"My vision of school nursing has evolved over the years and my role at the school has expanded. I tend to health care needs of students - which are varied and complex - so much more so than they were when I started," she continued.

Dillon, in addition to tending to the daily needs of students, has become an advocate for promoting health at the Waitsfield School and throughout the Washington West Supervisory Union. She is involved in teaching health education grades PK through six, running the school's wellness committee, promoting staff wellness, mentoring student nurses, coordinating school health for the seven schools in the supervisory union (with Linda King at Harwood), organizing the Tooth Tutor program for the schools in the district, helping families connect to health service and community resources and medical care and running a professional development group for health educators and nurses in the district.

"I am passionate about my profession and love working at the Waitsfield School. I can find joy every day from the students and we have a topnotch staff working there. I like knowing that school nurses contribute so much to making sure students are ready to learn in the classroom and that kids can get their job done every day when they are healthy. We help them get there.
The hardest part of my job is that sometimes it is hard to walk out of the building and turn it off. I care about my students and think about them a lot when I'm not at school, especially if they are struggling," Dillon explained.

Dillon lives with her husband John in Waitsfield. They have two children, Caroline and Jamie, both of whom are in college.