Nurse bids farewell after 15 years

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High School View

After 15 years of benefiting from her health projects and reliable warmth and care, Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) must bid farewell to school nurse Linda Leonard, who will retire at the end of the school year.

Ms. Leonard has enjoyed working with students. “Fifteen years ago I got the job of my lifetime: working with teenagers. I love it, I think kids listen to nurses,” said Ms. Leonard. “School nurses aren’t here for just Band-Aids. I’ve already sent two people to the Emergency Room [today],” she said.

Junior Jacob Cleland, who has known Ms. Leonard since his freshman year, said, “She always made sure we were doing the right things to keep our bodies in the best shape.” He also appreciates her capacity to listen, adding, “I could talk to her about stuff outside of school that I wouldn’t even tell my parents.”

Ms. Leonard, who is originally from Quincy, Massachusetts, moved to Martha’s Vineyard to work as a nurse’s aid at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital (MVH) while she was in nursing school. She later worked at MVH as a night nurse before starting as the school nurse at MVRHS.

As the school nurse she helped MVRHS be the first school in Massachusetts to introduce the Concussion Prevention Program, organized an H1-N1 virus clinic for the school community, and more recently started the COVID clearance test to return to exercise after contracting COVID-19. However, she’s most passionate about the significant increase in immunization compliance in the school community. Ms. Leonard reflected on her time spent at MVRHS. “[MVRHS] is like a big family,” she said. “Everybody works together to make an impact on teenagers. It takes a village to raise teenagers, and we are a big part of it.”

As a driving force behind the health and safety of the school community, it’s no surprise that the past year was particularly onerous for Ms. Leonard. “This has been the worst year of my nursing life,” she said. “But I can finally see the light at the end of this tunnel with everyone getting immunized. I have hope now. I am feeling progress.”

After retiring, Nurse Leonard plans to spend more time with her three children and four grandchildren. “I am such a family person, so I am looking forward to spending real quality time with them,” she said. “It was a tough decision [to retire] because I love this job, but my husband and I are entering our next phase of life. It’s time.”