Cars and vans lined the playground at Cody Elementary full of people waiting to say goodbye to longtime nurse, Ann Harris. After 22 years with the school, Mrs. Harris retired at the end of the semester.
Waves and smiles - socially distanced for safety - showed just how much Mrs. Harris means to the Cody community.
“Cody is a very special place,” Mrs. Harris said. “I will miss the people the most. I’ve had the opportunity to see kids come in kindergarten and carry them down to the room during registration and then move on to the junior high - all that growth. It’s awesome to see how they excel at school. I’ve been here long enough to see staff get married and have babies and see the babies go college. I’ve just developed very strong friendships here.”
And the feeling is mutual. Check out this video from her last day as she walked the halls for the final time.
Mrs. Harris knew she wanted to be a nurse early in high school. After graduating from nursing school, she started her career in the newborn nursery at University Hospitals. She took a few years off to raise children, but when she returned to nursing, she knew she wanted to work in education.
“This has been the best decision of my life,” Mrs. Harris said. “When I started at Cody it was a two-section school, so you get to know all the students and all the families. I’m now taking care of students whose parents I took care of.”
School nursing is so much more than bandaids and ice packs.
"We do get to see kids in a different light,” she said. “You are a case manager of students with chronic conditions. You are a first aid person. You are an educator when it comes to growth and development or providing information about the student’s health condition. You’re part social worker. You’re identifying mental health needs, so school nursing - there are many aspects. And that’s what I like about it!”
Mrs. Harris said it’s bittersweet to be retiring, but she looks forward to spending more time with her seven grandchildren and hiking national parks with her husband.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the last few months of this long and varied career. COVID-19 has presented challenges for all of PV’s nursing team. Mrs. Harris has been integral in planning to make sure all students and staff are safe at school.
“We as a district stood up and did our part,” she said. “We did everything we could do to bring the kids back safely. I feel really good about how it’s played out at school.”
Thank you, Mrs. Harris, for all your service to our children! You’ll be greatly missed.