As we are closing out this school year, a year like no other in our lifetimes, it’s amazing to think about where we started the year and how far we have come. In large part, we owe the fact that we are safely back at school to our amazing school nurses, led by Tricia Laham, Coordinator of School Health Services at the District level, who worked tirelessly all year. She and her team of 21 school nurses were in touch with families, conducted contact tracing, coordinated pooled testing and vaccines, and made sure that our students were safe, while they remained calm (at least outwardly) through it all.

In an effort to try to learn what this year was like for them, we asked the nurses at all of the Brookline schools a few questions about their experiences this year.  This is what we learned:

Like many of us, the school nurses had to make changes to the way they operated, which is particularly hard for a job that is meant to be very much face to face. In most cases, they worked at all hours of the day and night, especially for the contact tracing. “The need to constantly be available was both exhausting, and hard to ‘turn off’ when things started slowing down,” reported one nurse. Their roles shifted from being school nurses to roles of public health providers and primary care nurses. While school nurses have always been heavily relied upon, their importance became even more pronounced, and more people in the community realizing their value.

It is no surprise that many nurses reported that it was an extremely difficult year. Nurses spoke of constantly needing to be up to date with the science, and the changing information at every level of government. The nurses were often the ones relaying the critical information to families, staff, and children, and sometimes because of that dealing with resentment, anxiety, and disbelief. Mental health concerns increased with all of these Covid-related issues, and resources for mental health were sometimes in short supply. Of course, they also had to stay on top of all of the traditional health concerns that arise for visits to the nurse. Nearly all of the nurses reported that they felt sorry that they could not see their students’ faces or touch them as they normally would.

There were, however, some positive experiences that occurred this year. Some nurses realized how precious it is to be able to hug or touch a hurt or sick child. Some people felt that, in fact, zoom meetings had some benefits. A number of nurses appreciated learning more about the science and public health aspects of the disease. They also mentioned that as a group, the nursing team was able to really come together, be flexible, collaborate, and make it work. Working with the senior administration and the Health Department was also rewarding. And a number of respondents mentioned how gratifying it was that the families at the schools were generally very supportive.

Regarding their hopes for next year, the school nurses are very much looking forward to welcoming all students back in person at the beginning of the school year, with no masks, and having things be as normal as possible. This will inevitably mean that their jobs have slowed down to a normal busy pace and will mean that the health and safety of the students, teachers, and families are more stable as well.

One poignant response to a question of how the school community could make their lives easier was this: “One thing that would make my work more enjoyable (if not easier) is no longer being referred to as ‘the nurse’ – it sometimes feels as though all of my nursing colleagues across the district are lumped into this one, faceless title. One of our jobs is to make others feel seen and heard, and having people refer to us by name has the same effect on us.” That is true of nurses and of everybody. We want to express our sincere appreciation to all of our school nurses:

Coordinator of School Health Services

Tricia Laham, MEd, BSN, RN, NCSN

Baker School

Ellyn Mulock, BSN, RN, NCSN
Diane Purcell, BSN, RN, NCSN


Jana Young, MEd, BSN, RN
Brianna Cormos, MEd, BSN, RN


Marianne Dewing, BSN, RN, NCSN
Elizabeth Hendrickson, BSN, RN


Gail Corcoran, RN, NCSN


Karen Miller, BSN, RN
Hillary Janowski, RN, NCSN


Mary Kilkelly, BSN, RN


Mary D’Amore, BSN, RN, NCSN
Tara Anyaosah, BSN, RN


Janet Campbell, MSN, APRN, CNS, CEN, NCSN
Penney Casey, BSN, RN


Putterham and Clark Road:
Lucy Lukoff, MMHS, BSN, RN

Beacon and Lynch:
Betty Bekker, BA, RN, NCSN


Old Lincoln School:
April Armstrong, BSN, RN

115 Greenough Campus:
Jill Seaman-Chandler, MEd, BSN, RN
Megan Day, BSN, RN
Kate Donnelly, MA, BSN, RN

Covid Testing Coordinator

Debra Troderman, RN