RPS 205 nurse Linda Kimel, a more than 20-year employee and nurse at White Swan and Rolling Green elementary schools, is the 2016-17 Illinois School Nurse of the Year. The distinction comes from the Illinois Association of School Nurses. The award is conferred for “exemplary school nursing leadership, professionalism, achievement, and outstanding service to IASN and the community at large, as well as for direct and expert services to children.”
This recognition also means Kimel is the Illinois honoree for the National School Nurse of Excellence Award, given by the National Association of School Nurses. She will be honored at the IASN annual conference later this month in Springfield. The Rockford School Board will recognize Kimel at tonight's regular board meeting: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11, in the third-floor board room of the Administration Building, 501 7th St.
Kimel’s name should sound familiar. She has worked in RPS 205 since 1992. In February, Kimel was named to a leadership position with the National Association of School Nurses. She is also a longtime Special Olympics coach, co-founding the RPS 205 Special Olympics team and serving as head coach. "The more I work as a school nurse, the more I love my career and the people I meet in my work," Kimel said. "I enjoy teaching students how to care for themselves and stay as healthy as possible. Working in an elementary school provides me the opportunity to go into classrooms to present health lessons as well as opportunities to teach individual students and their families."
Through her involvement with the Illinois Association of School Nurses and the National Association of School Nurses, Kimel is able to bring ideas back to Rockford and its students. School nursing combines Kimel’s love of pediatrics, community health, and a desire to work with families of children with chronic health conditions. Kimel is a strong advocate for children with special needs and their families. Her own experience as the parent of a child with special needs helps her relate to parents in her job.
Kimel has a long list of achievements in her career. Some include:
- Co-leader of the Special Needs School Nursing Special Interest Group of the National Association of School Nurses
- National Association of School Nurses: School Nurse of the Year for Special Needs School Nursing
- Past winner of the Outstanding School Nurse for Special Needs Students award
- Chairwoman of the Illinois Association of School Nurses Foundation, which offers research, scholarships and mentoring for nursing professionals
- Member of the Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society
- Those Who Excel local winner in the Certified Support Personnel category
- Those Who Excel state recognition, Award of Excellence