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An Achievement Fourteen Years In the Making, Ohio School Nurse of the Year

women standing in line

February 22, 2024 – Virginia Shaffer, MS, BSN, RN, LSN, IBCLC, serving as the Diabetes Resource Coordinator for Columbus City Schools (CCS), has received the distinguished title of Ohio School Nurse of the Year from the Ohio Association of School Nurses. This recognition highlights her dedication to student health and contribution to promoting wellness across the school community.

"Ginny helps to advocate for our students with diabetes and coordinates care between the families and their health care providers," Dr. Machelle Kline, Chief Student Services Officer, said. "Most importantly, she empowers our students to self-manage their diabetes so that they can develop life-long healthy behaviors! She is exceptional and has a personable and caring approach."

With over 14 years of experience, Shaffer is an experienced school nurse who excels in her expertise in diabetes management, building relationships with students and families, and acting as a liaison for partnerships in the community. 

Mentored by CCS's senior nursing staff, Shaffer aspires to mentor future Columbus City Schools nurses. She actively conducts visits across the District, offering training on best practices and valuable insights, as well as supporting the ongoing education of nurses to ensure the safety and well-being of students both in school and at home.

"I am very honored [to have received this award], and Kim Carpenter, who recommended me, has been a tremendous mentor to me since I started," Shaffer said. "She, Dr. King, and so many other nurses here have really been mentors to me. [Achieving] this means a lot."

Shaffer works closely with Dr. Carole Sullivan, Director of Health, Family and Community Services, along with her team, to develop and strengthen essential partnerships like Nationwide Children's Hospital's Diabetes and School Health (DASH) Program and the District’s Growing Healthy Kids Coalition to add an extra layer of support to enhance the care-coordination programs within Columbus City Schools. 

"I have come to know Jenny over the past couple of years; she has a wealth of information regarding diabetes and taking care of kids," Dr. Sullivan said. Shaffer is a great resource and support for our nurses, especially our new nurses. She goes out and assists new nurses. She is very calm, nurturing, and knowledgeable about diabetes, and she has a passion for it."

Shaffer’s passion for nursing and diabetes treatment situates continued education as a valuable piece of Shaffer's day. Working with local, state, and national school nursing associations allows Shaffer to participate in committee work, continuing education sessions, and Board service. Shaffer is the sitting Executive Board Vice President of the Central Ohio Association of School Nurses.

These accolades allow Shaffer to excel in her day-to-day work and become a leading advocate for our students with diabetes and other health conditions. Shaffer attributes her success to the bonds she forms with families and students, emphasizing these connections as her paramount achievement. They are building a safe space in our schools so students and families can express their concerns and have open dialogue to learn to lead healthy lives daily. Shaffer will be acknowledged with the award during the Ohio Association for School Nurses Conference on April 19, 2024 at the Sawmill Creek Resort.

"Especially as a school nurse, our office has to be a safe space for students," Shaffer said. We really are those people who can build those relationships with families and students to be that safe space and that resource person to them; it is necessary."

Power of One

Priority 1 - Whole Child FocusedPriority 2 - Equitable Opportunities for AllPriority 3 - Strong Learning Communities in Every RegionPriority 4 - Authentic Engagement