AMOS & CELIA HEILICHER MINNEAPOLIS JEWISH DAY SCHOOL

The most popular person at school may not be who you think it is!

The most popular person at school may not be who you think it is!

Nurse Katie Ruff greets a parent at Heilicher's Summer Social. She answered health questions for families before school had even started.

By Dr. Dan Ahlstrom

The principle of sh’mirat haguf (safeguarding the body) underscores the importance of holistic care for both the mind and the body. The progression of the role and responsibilities of school nurses, especially here at Heilicher, exemplifies our collective commitment to promoting comprehensive well-being. It aligns with the concept of sh’mirat haguf by ensuring our educational practices encompass the nurturing of both mental and physical health.

Transitioning from the past, when a visit to the school nurse often entailed receiving minor first aid or a call home, the scope of the school nurse’s role has significantly broadened. Historically confined to basic health care and injury treatment, school nurses are now integral in addressing a wider spectrum of wellness, including mental health support. This shift harmoniously complements Heilicher’s dedication to the all-encompassing welfare of its students.

We are grateful for the presence of Katie Ruff, who joined our team as the necessity for an in-house health specialist emerged with the pandemic’s onset. Her role as school nurse has become increasingly vital to our community. Katie’s primary aim is to facilitate every student’s return to the classroom as swiftly as possible following illness, working in close partnership with our teachers, who are deeply invested in the holistic development of our students.

Beyond managing chronic conditions and overseeing health records, Katie often serves as the initial point of contact for parents when their child is absent due to illness or when there are concerns regarding a student’s well-being. Her ability to cultivate trust with both students and their families enables us to preemptively address health issues. Katie places a high value on earning trust, positioning herself as a neutral, safe space for students in need of support — making her popular among students and staff.

Katie’s contributions are also pivotal in the early identification and intervention of mental health challenges, which can manifest through physical symptoms or changes in behavior, especially in young people. Her collaboration with our staff and the families of our students is invaluable in this regard.

In addition to her direct care responsibilities, Katie leads first aid training sessions, manages the Illness Dashboard on the Heilicher Communication Center website, conducts babysitting courses, and teaches the Our Whole Lives curriculum on human sexuality to middle school students. While Katie’s efforts may not always be in the public eye, the essential role she plays in maintaining the health and well-being of the Heilicher community is deeply appreciated. While we navigate the complexities of cold, flu, and COVID-19 season, having Katie as a partner is a source of immense gratitude, as she helps our school community remain resilient and healthy.

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The most popular person at school may not be who you think it is!

The principle of sh’mirat haguf (safeguarding the body) underscores the importance of holistic care for both the mind and the body. The progression of the role and responsibilities of school nurses, especially here at Heilicher, exemplifies our collective commitment to promoting comprehensive well-being. It aligns with the concept of sh’mirat haguf by ensuring our educational practices encompass the nurturing of both mental and physical health.

Transitioning from the past, when a visit to the school nurse often entailed receiving minor first aid or a call home, the scope of the school nurse’s role has significantly broadened.