Mashpee School Nurse Given New Award For Selfless Aid To Children
By: Elsa H. Partan
The school nurse at Kenneth C. Coombs School made such an impression on the members of the Kiwanis Club of Mashpee that they created an award to honor her.
Stacey M. Schakel, who is known as “Nurse Stacey” by the children in the preschool through grade 2 school, was awarded the first annual Unsung Hero Award at a surprise ceremony at The Tea Shoppe in Mashpee on Valentine’s Day.
“She is the most vivacious woman,” said Kiwanis Club president Tamara J. Gray. “She’s got a presence. She set the bar so high, it’s going to be hard to find someone to equal her.”
Ms. Gray noted that Ms. Schakel, who has held the school nurse position since 2009, organizes the annual Giving Tree event with the PTO and the school adjustment counselor and coordinates and distributes gifts for needy families.
“She is a parent to every child in that school,” she said.
Kiwanis board member Joseph R. Marino provided a list of Ms. Schakel’s contributions, which include providing evening CPR training to parents and guardians free of charge, mentoring Mashpee High School students who express an interest in the health field, providing education to needy families on health issues such as seizure disorders and diabetes, and personally providing students with adaptive technology and helping them to maximize the benefit of the technologies.
She struck the Kiwanis board members as, “different, exceptional, bubbly, and enthusiastic about going to work,” said Mr. Marino.
Kiwanis members had been searching for ways to spread the club’s mission of helping children when club member Mark P. Brainson happened to meet Ms. Schakel at the Coombs School one day. He was so impressed with Ms. Schakel’s dedication to children that he pitched the idea of an award to honor her, Ms. Gray said. Instead of a one-time award, the club decided to make it annual, calling it the Unsung Hero Award.
The award will be granted each year to someone in the community who, “selflessly helps children,” Ms. Gray said.
The award came with a plaque and a gift of $250. An anonymous donor matched the gift, bringing the total award to $500. A plaque kept by the Kiwanis Club was inscribed with Ms. Schakel’s name and has room for the names of future recipients to be inscribed.
Ms. Schakel arrived at The Tea Shoppe on Valentine’s Day prepared to give a presentation about the health needs of students at the Coombs School, unaware of the second purpose for her invitation. After she gave her presentation, club members surprised her with the honor.
“It was totally incredible,” she said. “I’m still in shock.”
Ms. Schakel, who lives in Cotuit, was previously a school nurse in Falmouth and Barnstable. She said she enjoys the job because every day is different.
“I love being able to work with a variety of individuals, from students, to staff, to parents and the community. I have to stay current. I enjoy being the medical person in an educational setting. I have to make sure that they are healthy and have their needs met.”
In her 15 years of experience in the field, the number of students with complex health needs has increased, she said. “Asthma, diabetes, seizures, gastrostomy tubes, ADD, ADHD. There are psychological and psychiatric needs. There is a huge increase in mental issue issues.”
Students who would not have been placed in mainstream public schools two decades ago are coming to school now, she noted. Some students with severe health issues would not have survived to school age in decades past. All of this makes for a challenging and rewarding job, she said.
Ms. Schakel grew up in Cotuit and graduated from Barnstable High School in 1986. She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from Graceland University in Missouri. She also earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Emmanuel College and a master’s in education from Cambridge College in 2006. She is currently earning a certificate of advanced graduate study through Bridgewater State University and a license for directors and supervisors through the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Ms. Gray, Kiwanis president, welcomed anyone who is interested in the club to write to her at email@example.com or attend meetings on Thursday mornings, 7:30 to 8:30, at The Tea Shoppe.
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