For New Beginnings Family Academy (NBFA) School Nurse Kenesha Willis, every day presents a new challenge. There is always a health matter to attend to, whether it is testing for COVID or assisting a student that has an ear infection. The responsibilities of a school nurse have changed exponentially since the start of the pandemic and Willis is dedicated to keeping students healthy and safe.
Born and raised on Long Island, Willis has wanted to work as a nurse since she was a child. When asked that question, I always said ‘Nurse!’ boldly and proudly,” Willis said. “That answer never changed.”
Willis earned her Associate’s in Applied Science in Nursing from Nassau Community College and her Bachelor’s in Nursing from Capella University. Drawn to pediatrics, Willis worked in a variety of medical practices before joining NBFA in 2020.
“I enjoy that my role is not entirely medical and NBFA is not strictly a medical facility,” Willis said.
For Willis, NBFA’s school model of whole school, whole community, whole child is one with which she deeply connects.
“The focus of this model responds to the call for greater alignment, integration, and collaboration between education and health to improve each child’s cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development,” Willis said. “This will in turn strengthen the school-home relationship, as well as help students and families, maintain a healthy lifestyle.”
NBFA School Nurse Kenesha Willis examines a student with an ear infection.
As the school nurse, Willis works to ensure the overall safety and health compliance of every student enrolled at NBFA. Some of Willis’ tasks include first aid care, emergency care, and health promotion.
“My daily mantra has been, 'Don’t be too busy to care,'” Willis said. “Going that extra mile to help a family figure out a new diagnosis or helping coordinate a needed appointment for a check-up or vaccination are ways that help make a difference.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Willis had to quickly adapt to the new health responsibilities as students transitioned to remote learning. Then, once students returned to in-person learning, Willis helped to lead the effort to keep NBFA students healthy so they could continue their education.
NBFA expanded the Health Team by hiring Certified Nursing Assistant Alexis Myles to better care for students, especially during the pandemic. the health needs of NBFA’s 500 students are met.
Along with her other healthcare obligations, Willis distributes a weekly newsletter to NBFA teachers and staff. The “What if? Wednesday!” newsletter covers a specific emergency health issue and how best to treat it.
A lifelong learner herself, Willis hopes NBFA students understand the value of the education they are receiving at NBFA. “I would implore students never to stop learning and always be teachable,” Willis said. “We strive as a community when we continue to explore and feed our spirits of inquiry!”
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