LYNDONVILLE — The leader of the Kingdom East School District’s health team is both a doctor and a nurse — and Dr. Nurse Hall was recently selected to be honored with both state and national awards.

“…{Hall] has transformed Kingdom East School District’s nursing practices across our schools, created leadership and vision and helped us stay positive through such a tumultuous time,” the district announced in a release.

Hall stepped into much bigger shoes and responsibilities at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, taking on an unprecedented level of trust and pressure as the global pandemic wreaked havoc on how schools would be able to safely re-open and operate amid the ongoing health concerns.

According to Kingdom East Superintendent Jen Botzojorns, “During the pandemic, Dr. Soph Hall provided exceptional leadership. This includes timely responses, thoughtful implementation, and collaborative teaming around absolutely everything COVID-related. And, every weekend, for hours on end, she supported other nurses.

“Her Zoom calls and assistance with contact tracing for all seven schools in our district were coupled with positive upbeat messages, laughter and the promise that we will get through this period of time … She has an ability to develop trust in all our nurses, families, schools and students.”

Hall received two awards recently. She was named VT School Nurse Administrator of the Year from the Vermont State School Nurses’ Association and the Outstanding School Nurse Administrator 2022 award is from the National Association of School Nurses.

In addition to her work with Kingdom East, Hall also served as President of the Vermont State School Nurses’ Association from July 2017 through June of 2021 - during the height of the pandemic. She was the KESD Covid Coordinator/Lead School Nurse from July 2020 to June 2022.

“When the pandemic hit, I advocated for school nurses to be at the decision-making table addressing the health crisis and its impact on the school children we serve,” Hall said. “This advocacy for the expertise of the school nurse was successful; I was invited to serve on the Agency of Education Secretary’s Advisory committee which led to my appointment as the School Nurse on the VDH/AOE team that wrote Strong and Healthy Start: Safety and health guidance for re-opening schools 2020. School nurses were part of the VT NEA meetings planning for re-entry to in-person school.”

Thanks in part to Hall’s leadership, she said “School nurses were identified as the ideal person to become the COVID Coordinator for every school district as a return to in-person learning was desirable.”

She said “the pandemic has shined the light on the specialty of school nursing, the heavy load the school nurse carries as the sole health care professional in the school building, the necessity of every student having easy access to a school nurse, and the vital role the school nurse and their expertise plays in guiding student success for learning.”

Hall, who recently earned her doctorate in Nursing Practices, also volunteers in the community for vaccination and immunization clinics on weekends, helps out local medical professionals, and coordinates regional information sessions with local pediatricians, Kingdom East officials said.

Hall was honored on April 25th at the Vermont State School Nurses’ Association (VSSNA) annual meeting.

She will be receiving the 2022 Outstanding School Nurse Administrator Award at the NASN Conference in Atlanta Georgia in June.

“This National Award is huge - it recognizes that the work Dr. Soph Hall has done at the local, district and state level was noticed nationally and impacted school nursing everywhere,” the Kingdom East announcement said.

Superintendent Botzojorns shared that, “Each day Dr. Nurse Soph Hall shows up at Millers Run School. She takes care of all things great and small related to nursing in our individual school where she serves as ‘Nurse Soph.’ She helps children who have not made it in time to the toilet. She helps students with diabetes or nut allergies. She calls parents and patiently walks them through their needed responses to illness. She facilitates medical 504 meetings — all with the utmost professionalism.”

“What I appreciate most is her participation with Girls on the Run. Children, some fit, some just learning to exercise, join her on the upbeat short jogs,” Botzojorns went on. “She is helping them improve their lives forever. This contribution goes beyond all others. Ms Hall is grounded, kind, forward-thinking. We all offer her our greatest appreciation and heartfelt congratulations!”

National Association Award

In a separate announcement to the press, the National Association of School Nurses also touted the skills and service of Hall.

“Every year the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) recognizes the School Nurse of the Year and the Outstanding School Nurse Administrator of the Year from each state. Until COVID, Vermont only had too few school nurse administrators in the state to participate in the latter,” the press release stated. “With the creation of COVID Coordinator positions in many school districts in the 2020-21 school year, districts around the state saw the value in having a school nurse leader at their decision making table. The Vermont State School Nurses’ Association (VSSNA) decided to start awarding this honor in our state beginning this school year. This will be the first year that a Vermont Outstanding School Nurse Administrator of the year will be recognized among other state awardees at the NASN Conference in June.”

Hall is the association’s first in the new category.

“She leads by example and is the first to give her talents to help others succeed,” the NASN announcement said. “Soph is so incredible that not only did she keep Vermont School Nurses afloat amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and serve many hours representing school nurses in multiple state meetings, but she also completed a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree! Soph Hall puts the A in ‘Amazing,’ and embodies all of the criteria this award represents. It is the VSSNA’s pleasure to announce the 2021-22 Vermont School Nurse Administrator of the Year, Dr. Sophia R. Boyle Hall.”

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