Apple Award winner’s boss sings her praises

School nurse consultant ‘remarkable,’ ‘well loved’

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Like almost every Apple Award winner, school nurse consultant Celia Flanigan becomes tongue-tied when asked why she believes she was chosen for the honor.

“There’s so many people that deserve it,” she said. “I was shocked.”

Flanigan, a Douglas County School District nurse for 14 years, was chosen as the district’s 2013 Administrative Employee of the Year. While she’s reluctant to talk about the qualities that earned her that distinction, her boss has no such reservations.

“Celia is a remarkable person,” said Paulette Joswick, director of DCSD Health Services. “She’s so well loved among her fellow nurses, and also her schools. I’ve never heard anybody say anything negative about her.”

Flanigan has helped health services work efficiently with its available staff.

“There aren’t as many nurses as we would like for servicing kids with increasingly complicated health problems, so we have to work smarter,” Joswick said. “Celia is one of those that teaches us to work smarter.”

School nurses are responsible for multiple schools, and Flanigan leads an eight-nurse team that covers the nearly 30 Parker-area schools. Because nurses can’t be on-site at all times, she helps train school staff to care for the specific health issues of children in their schools.

“We have heart disease, transplants, diabetes — a lot of very challenging issues,” Joswick said. “A lot of very challenging health issues. People look at a school nurse and think, ‘She’s sitting in a clinic taking care of boo-boos,’ and that is not what we’re doing at all.

“Celia’s very cheerful, very positive, very knowledgeable — and always willing to share that knowledge with others.”

The Franktown resident has been a nurse for more than 30 years, earning her master’s degree in 2005. Nursing is all she’s ever wanted to do. But she found her niche in 1999 when she switched from a hospital to a school setting.

“Once I started doing it, I absolutely loved it,” she said.

She treats children for a broad variety of health challenges, from allergies and asthma to emotional disorders and cancer. She works with athletes who’ve suffered concussions as part of the district’s Traumatic Brain Injury team. Flanigan finds joy in helping students work through those issues and still reap the benefits of school.

“I really find it uplifting,” Flanigan said. “It’s always great to see the kids have the opportunity for an education — regardless of what health concerns they may have.”

“I plan to do this until I retire and that probably won’t be for a long time.”

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