KSNA Nurse of the Year Rhonda Riley of Graves County
(Mayfield KY, Feb. 5, 2013) - The Graves County Schools’ Rhonda Riley was honored Monday, March 4, as the Kentucky School Nurses’ Association’s 2013 “Lucille Ross School Nurse of the Year” at the organization’s annual spring conference banquet in Lexington.
KSNA’s web site says the award is presented each year to one school nurse who has demonstrated excellence in her school nursing practice. The award first was presented in the early 1990s and is named in honor of KSNA’s founder.
“I am truly shocked and humbled to receive such an award!” Riley said. “As a Kentucky school nurse, I’m just a small part of a much bigger picture. The truth is that it takes a real team of nurses to ensure quality health care for a school district like ours. I am deeply grateful and blessed to fulfill a role that has become far more than a job, but rather a completely enjoyable way of life! I am convinced that caring for others is what I was meant to do and I am thankful that school nursing in Graves County has allowed me to do just that. I had no idea when I took this job 23 years ago what was in store and how this career would evolve. I sincerely appreciate the wonderful opportunity I was given and the continued support that I am constantly shown.”
Riley currently is stationed two days per week at Graves County Middle School and three day at Graves County High School. Even so, she also carries responsibility for the eight elementary schools located throughout the county. She consults with the other five school nurses in the district’s eight elementary schools.
Other supervisory duties include being in charge of school physicals, leading blood-borne pathogen training for district personnel, and teaching first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Additionally, she serves as the district’s health coordinator. Therefore, she is directly involved in any health issues that affect the district.
Riley earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1983 from Murray State University and accumulated professional experience before coming to the district in 1990. She subsequently earned a master’s degree as a clinical nurse specialist, also at MSU, in 1997. In 2000, she earned a post-master’s degree and certification as a nurse practitioner. She pursued her nurse practitioner certification in order to provide additional and expanded services for the students and staff of the school district.
The mother of one student said, “During my daughter’s eight-year battle with cancer, Rhonda played an important role in my daughter’s care… She is the angel God sent to counsel and guide my daughter.”
GCHS principal Matthew Madding said, “She has proven herself through perseverance, initiative, compassion, and much more. In the words of one of my students, ‘I love Mrs. Rhonda. She’s awesome.’”
She is a member of KSNA, the National Association of School Nurses, and the Kentucky Coalition of Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Midwives. In the past, she served KSNA as the Western Region delegate.
Superintendent Pete Galloway said since the beginning of her employment with the district, she has been an extremely valuable asset to its 4,500 students and 700 employees. Her additional education over time also has proven helpful since her added knowledge, skills, and certification have expanded duties for which she is responsible.
“We place a great deal of responsibility on Rhonda,” Galloway explained, “but, even so, she does far more than we ask and always with the utmost professionalism and enthusiasm. Simply put, Rhonda Riley is a highly-valued pillar of the health efforts of our school district and a highly-trusted professional, who goes far beyond the call of duty to ensure that the very best health practices take place regularly in the Graves County Schools. We’re very proud of her achievement in being named the KSNA’s 2013 Lucille Ross School Nurse of the Year.”
KSNA’s immediate past-president, Sharyl Iden, concluded, “Rhonda is a shining example of a school nurse who provides excellent care to her students and is, therefore, perfectly suited for this recognition.”