Georgiana’s Cooke named LPN of the Year

Published 3:30 pm Friday, May 31, 2013

From bumps and bruises to emergency 911 calls, Georgiana School nurse Beverly Cooke has seen it all.

Fortunately, being a school nurse was a call that Cooke just had to answer.

“I just like to think that I make a difference, even if it’s a Band-Aid,” Cooke said. “If a Band-Aid helps a child get through the rest of the day, then I’m glad to be able to put it on.”

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Cooke was recently selected as the Alabama Association of School Nurses Licensed Practice Nurse (LPN) of the Year.

The presentation of her award will be held at the State School Nurse Convention in Trussville in June.

Cooke, who has lived in Alabama now for 23 years, moved to the state without a job, but soon after decided to attend Reid State Technical College and got into the LPN program there.

She has been working in the field of nursing ever since, including many home health and nursing home positions.  Now that her job has led her full-circle to working with children, Cooke said that the students under her care are like extended family members.

“The parents have been great, and everybody has worked together, from the principal to any of the support staff,” Cooke said. “You need everybody to make one thing work at this school. I try to take care of children like they are my own, but you still need help and cooperation from everybody.”

Although Cooke said that she was amazed and thankful that someone even thought enough of her to put her name in for consideration of the honor, those that have been granted an opportunity to work alongside her aren’t nearly as surprised.

Butler County head school nurse Debbie Hyatt said that Cooke has all of the tools necessary to be an effective school nurse and an equally great role model.

“Beverly has a big heart and a love for children of all ages, which is good since she works in a K-12 setting each day,” Hyatt said. “Beverly’s bright smile is a part of her daily uniform and is a comforting art of her care to both her students and co-workers.  She represents all school nurses at our finest.”

Similarly, Butler County School System curriculum director Tera Simmons has worked closely with Cooke for the past two years, and added that she goes above and beyond what is required.

“She is a diligent worker and truly cares about the faculty and students,” Simmons said. “Not only does she perform her duties as a school nurse with both efficiency and proficiency, but she also volunteers her time to sponsor a FOCUS group for the students.

Under her sponsorship, the FOCUS group at Georgiana School has promoted school and community partnerships for preventing HIV and other adolescent risk behaviors such as teenage pregnancy.”

The FOCUS group, which Cooke calls her “baby,” involves a group of upperclassmen giving information to other students.  As facilitator of the program, Cooke’s responsibility lies in gathering the proper information for the students to pass to their friends, peers and families.

The most important thing, according to Cooke, was that students themselves deliver the message.

“They get information from each other every day, all day long,” Cooke said. “If they can get the good information, they’ll listen to each other.”

Despite a laundry list of impressive feats in her brief four-year tenure at Georgiana, Cooke attributes her accomplishments all to a power higher than herself.

“It’s not just me, but it’s what I’ve been assigned to do — what my hands have been assigned to do,” Cooke said. “To God be the glory.”