SYCAMORE – Victoria Malley is dedicated to keeping students healthy, whether it’s giving them a Band-Aid for a cut or shaping the health policies for a whole school district.
Malley, 58, has been a Sycamore resident for past 2 1/2 years and has worked for Rockford Public School District 205 for 22 years. This year, Malley was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Pediatric Care from the state public health department for her work in childhood care. The award came as a surprise for Malley, who considers herself a “small town person who tries to make a difference in the health of a child.”
Throughout her career with the school district, she has been a certified school nurse, a pediatric registered nurse and the district’s director of health services. As the director, she updated policies and created districtwide health policies. In one case, she wrote a policy allowing EpiPens in the school district after seeing a student about 15 years ago have an extreme allergic reaction to peanuts.
Daily Chronicle reporter Felix Sarver spoke with Malley about her work as a school nurse and how she helps students stay healthy.
Q: How did you become interested in providing childhood care?
A: I just love kids. When I was wanting to be a nurse, I was immediately drawn to pediatric nursing and I originally began as a school nurse. ... I figured out what it is I had to do to become a school nurse.
Q: What is it like being a pediatric nurse for a school district? What do you do throughout your day?
A: We’re very busy during the day. We’re involved in the day-to-day first aid, which is always just a simple Band-Aid but then you get the major accidents of kids falling down or twisting their ankles. Over the years I’ve probably seen ... 20 broken legs and many broken arms and major cuts where kids have gotten falling.
Q: You mentor other nurses and even students in the school district. What do you mentor them for?
A: I’ve done reading tutoring and I do a lot of counseling for emotional concerns. ... As a school nurse, you become that resource [students] need to talk to about something. ... The social worker isn’t around a lot of the time. A lot of the time as a school nurse you try to impact whatever the needs are for their health, whether it’s a psychological or health need, and make a difference so they can get back in the classroom and learn.
Q: What’s it like working with parents and their children to ensure students are safe and healthy in the school district?
A: If anybody is injured we call the parents. Rockford is in a unique situation in that not everybody may not have a phone number depending on the economic status of the parent and that’s been getting better over the years as cellphone prices have been coming down.
Q: What’s the one thing you enjoy about being a nurse?
A: Working with kids. They bring true joy to my heart. ... Right now I’m working with fourth- through eighth-graders. ... I feel blessed everyday at my job for doing something I enjoy doing.