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CCES Heroes: School Nurses Stacey Ejiri and Heather Reynolds

 
Can you imagine beginning a position as a school nurse during a pandemic? 

Stacey Ejiri and Heather Reynolds did just that, and they did so with grace, professionalism, patience, and a sense of humor,” said Dr. Angela Allen, Associate Head of School at CCES.

“I am certain we would not be where we are today without the tireless efforts of Stacey and Heather. As school nurses, they have played an integral role in safely opening our doors at the start of the school year and maintaining the health and safety of all students, faculty, and staff.”

Ejiri and Reynolds have been designated CCES Heroes for all they’ve done on the front lines for the School over the past year.

“I cannot think of two more deserving individuals,” Allen said. “They are truly our heroes at CCES, and I can’t imagine walking this journey without them.” 

The Dream Team

Ejiri and Reynolds have helped guide families through illnesses and questions throughout the year and have done so in their first year at CCES, which has been an added challenge for the two. 

Ejiri was hired the summer of 2020 as CCES anticipated needing additional help navigating the pandemic. 

“From the very start, she proved to be efficient, knowledgeable, and incredibly professional,” Allen said. 

Even before students arrived, Ejiri helped shape CCES policies and procedures for managing the health of students. 

Reynolds came on board in September of last year.

“When Stacey found herself being the ‘veteran’nurse in September, she not only kept us headed in the right direction, but she helped us find Heather who jumped right in,” said David Padilla, Head of School.

“Together, they are the ‘dream team’ of the school nursing world!”

“Dream team” is only one of the nicknames Ejiri and Reynolds have earned. Faculty and staff members also affectionately refer to the school nurses as the “Wonder Twins” and the “Dynamic Duo” for their leadership during the pandemic. 

“Their teamwork is a sight to behold,” Allen said. “They fill the space when the other is not available. They communicate as one, and they bring such joy to the workplace. 

“Providing care across campus for three divisions requires consistent communication and collaboration. Of course, Stacey and Heather are masters at this and work together beautifully. Their skill sets are complementary and they truly enjoy working with one another.”

Mapping Out Policies and Procedures for Face-to-Face Education

Since they began, the nurses have collaborated with Allen to research CDC and DHEC guidance, developed policies, and monitored the health and safety of the CCES community. 

“I have seen firsthand the empathy and care they take with each student, faculty member, and parent,” Allen said. “Throughout this school year, they have spent countless hours counseling our families and faculty on health and safety guidance. They are patient and kind in all interactions and give whatever time is needed to ensure everyone feels cared for and heard.”

Ejiri and Reynolds have efficiently led the daily health and safety team meetings, according to Allen. They’ve also clearly articulated the details of health and safety events as well as next steps.

“Stacey and Heather have spent their days, evenings, weekends, and holidays doing this work to help us manage the crisis to keep our students safe and our doors open,” Allen said.

“I have exchanged countless texts, calls, and emails with both Stacey and Heather early in the morning, late into the night, and all in between. Not once have they complained. In fact, they leave work each day with the same warm smile they arrived with.”

David Johnstone, the Lower School Director, marvels at Ejiri’s and Reynolds’ ability to provide care and support to 1,110 families. 

“They check every absence to ensure that students and families are supported during the pandemic,” he said. “They offer guidance and an empathetic ear. While following up on every absence and report of illness, they offer warmth and support for students who skin a knee, bump their head or suffer an asthma attack after a long run.
 
“They do all of these things while also answering emails in the evening and during weekends. Their expertise shines through every interaction. Throughout the entire year, there is positivity and joy in the way they approach their jobs that is comforting.”
 
Kate Fagan, the Middle School Director, also believes Ejiri and Reynolds deserve to be regarded as heroes.
 
“When parents have questions regarding student health, especially regarding COVID concerns, they deliver information in a way that is supportive and caring. 

“Stacey and Heather should be regarded as heroes because their unending efforts have been essential in keeping CCES open face-to-face, five days a week during this school year. In a short amount of time, they’ve become trusted and beloved members of our school community. They keep our students at the center of their decision making and are always willing to go the extra mile to ensure all students and staff members are safe and healthy.

“We are grateful for their dedication to our Cavaliers!”

Not that Ejiri and Reynolds spend all of their time on issues related to the pandemic. Far from it. 

They also continue to do the more routine healthcare handled by school nurses, such as attending to general illnesses, scrapes, bumps, and bruises. They also review records, revise basic care policies, and advise leadership on the best course of action.

“It is astounding to see the way they multitask and still remain very present in their daily work,” Allen said.

“It's not just medical expertise which they bring,” Padilla said. “Both Heather and Stacey are incredibly approachable and supportive of our students. Arguably, there's never been a year in CCES history where having such strong people in these roles is so key.”

Padilla agrees with Allen’s assessment of how vital Ejiri and Reynolds have been to CCES. 

“I can honestly say that we could not have made this year a success without Stacey and Heather's leadership,” Padilla said.

“The fact that they always have a smile and a kind word only makes working with them that much better.”
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Christ Church Episcopal School (“CCES”) admits students of any sex, race, color, national or ethnic origin, creed, religion, or sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at CCES. CCES does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, national or ethnic origin, creed, religion, or sexual orientation in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, financial aid or other programs, or athletic or other school-administered programs and activities.