Tending to the daily health needs of a school full of children takes someone both caring and competent and Grant Elementary Health Aide Melissa Diemert has both qualities in spades. A former dietician before joining the District two years ago, Melissa brings her penchant for spreading kindness and championing service to the many roles she takes on at Grant.
Besides the typical visits for upset tummies or skinned knees, Melissa handles the needs of students with complex health care plans such as diabetes or Cystic Fibrosis that require medications, monitoring, documentation and two-way communication with families. “Parent communication and building that relationship is so important” to knowing how to tend to a child’s needs, Melissa says.
The kindness Melissa shows her young health center visitors extends to the jobs she takes on outside the health center such as the Safety Patrol group she leads and the Shoe-Tie Club she started to celebrate kindergarteners and first graders’ mastery of the tricky task. She also strives to instill a commitment to service in the students she interacts with, whether it’s with the professional attitude she expects from her Safety Patrol members or in the assistance she gives to the Kiwanis K-Kids Club at Horace Mann.
“I encourage my Patrol kids to be kind and model students and that it’s important to give back to their community,” says Melissa, who serves as a mentor for Refugee Response in her free time.
She is proud to be part of the District’s group of health aides, led by District Nurse Katy Corrigan. “We have a lot of compassion and we want to best take care of these kids,” Melissa says.
Grant Principal Kait Turner sums up Melissa’s impact: “Grant Elementary School, Lakewood City Schools and the Lakewood community would not be the same without Melissa.”
Roosevelt Elementary Intervention Specialist Caroline Flannery’s mission is simple: teach children to read. For 22 years she has been doing just that by not only giving her students the literacy skills needed, but showing them compassion and care as well.
Caroline’s nominator, fellow Intervention Specialist Anna Zeller, says it’s Caroline’s “true and heartfelt commitment to her students” that makes her standout. “She is always encouraging them to persevere and celebrates their successes, no matter how big or small,” Anna says.
Caroline uses the time she has with her students to form meaningful connections that allow her to see when a student may have an emotional issue that could hold him or her back from learning. “She always notices when someone needs something,” Anna says of Caroline. It is the trust Caroline has earned with her students that allow them to speak up when something is bothering them.
Her greatest joy as a teacher comes from when she sees students who started out as struggling readers pick up a book on their own and start to read. “I love watching them grow and progress and see how far they’ve come,” she said.
Caroline sees her role at Roosevelt much like a case manager, making sure all a student’s needs are met so that he or she can succeed. She is grateful that her fellow staff members see themselves as part of the cause as well. “Everyone considers the students as our students together,” Caroline says. Everyone has the attitude of “how can we help him or her.”
For Caroline, help comes in her own special way.
Says Anna: “She gives them a voice and she sees the potential in each of her students. Her warm and genuine smile welcomes her students every day.”