Local school nurse honored for performance

For Laura Marino, a nurse at Brawley Middle and Woodland Heights Elementary schools, the workday doesn't end with the last bell.

She's organizing afternoon programs, mentoring students or leading after-school activities.

Fellow nurses nominated Marino for the N.C. School Nurse of the Year award for 2009-10. She won and will be honored at the state conference in Raleigh this month.

The Iredell-Statesville Schools' Student Support Service Award also recognized her collaboration with support staff.

"I'm not doing anything different than other school nurses," Marino said. "Most of our nurses ... serve anywhere from 1,000 to 2,600 students. I serve 1,770 students between the two schools."

Marino and her peers are health educators. Their mission is to eliminate barriers to learning.

On a typical day, Marino sees 25 students and may do blood pressure or blood sugar checks for staff members.

She's enthusiastic about her job and loves working with middle school students.

Four years ago, she and a Brawley parent started a "Girls Rockin' and Runnin' Club," an after-school gathering for girls to become physically active and discuss topics about personal growth. Students met twice a week for 12 weeks and ran a 5K race.

Marino and school counselors organized a Big Sister/Little Sister club. Lake Norman High sophomores are mentors to seventh-graders. They meet twice a month and volunteer in the community.

With counselors and a physical education teacher, Marino designed an interactive health class to address obesity concerns. Based on fitness and body mass index scores, 20 students are invited to participate.

Lowe's YMCA and Iredell Memorial Hospital are partners. A Y trainer visits weekly, and a physician offers a free physical exam.

The class stresses physical activity. Students may visit a horse farm or walk to a grocery store to meet with a dietitian.

With Brawley counselor Dana Treadway and student assistant program coordinator Becky Rader, Marino organized a Halloween dance and powder-puff football game, netting $3,500 for support services for high-risk students.

With A 5K run she organized at Woodland Heights raised $6,500 to help uninsured students with medical, dental, vision and personal needs.

When seventh-grader Ricky Coste was homebound with leukemia last year, Marino planned a bone marrow drive. She swabbed the cheeks of 68 potential donors.

Marino deflected praise about her accomplishments.

"I couldn't do my job on my own," she said.