Faced with unprecedented circumstances, Louise Wilson’s passion for nursing and supporting Wisconsin schools has never wavered.
With a calm demeanor no matter the challenge, Wilson, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s school nurse consultant and the lone resource expert at the agency, has been instrumental in keeping Wisconsin schools, students, staff, and families safe and healthy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only that, but Wilson’s close attention to detail, proactive approach, ability to effectively communicate with nurses and officials around the state, and tireless dedication to the profession has made her not only a leader, but a hero throughout the pandemic.
It’s those same reasons why Wilson was selected to receive the 2022 Outstanding State School Nurse Consultant Achievement Award by the National Association of State School Nurse Consultants (NASSNC). The national award recognizes one state school nurse consultant from around the nation who demonstrates excellence in the role.
“This award represents my passion, my life’s work…receiving this award recognizing my leadership simply is life affirming,” Wilson, who boasts over 28 years of school nursing experience, said. “It is an incredible and humbling honor to have been recognized by the National Association of State School Nurse Consultants with the association’s Outstanding Achievement Award. I am so grateful.”
Since the pandemic started in the early months of 2020, Wilson has been at the forefront. She has worked endless hours to navigate the daily challenges and uncertainty the pandemic has brought, communicating the latest mitigation strategies and guidance to Wisconsin schools, teaching nurses nurses across the state, and advocating on their behalf. Wilson has regularly been involved in webinars with the field and serves as the primary and direct support to schools.
“Like so many others who work to support educational communities, Louise demonstrates endless courage, sacrifice, compassion, and humanity,” Wisconsin DPI Student Services/Prevention and Wellness Director Susan Piazza said in her nomination letter. “Amid constant pivoting, and perhaps even a feeling of short-term daily survival, Louise reminds school nurses that it’s OK and necessary to reach out for help and lean on each other for support.
“Louise has been their champion, their north star, developing and sharing innovative resources and navigation tools to help them through their day.”
Wilson’s ability to excel as a leader in the nursing community led to her being elected to serve as the president-elect of the NASSNC. She’d served as vice president of the organization for the past year, and has built valuable working relationships with other state school nurse consultants throughout that span.
“Louise believes deeply in the importance of school nursing, and she takes her role as an advocate for her professional colleagues very seriously,” State Superintendent Dr. Jill Underly said in her nomination letter. “She knows that the health and well-being of our students is intricately connected to the health and well-being of our educators, including our school nurses, and she works to ensure they have what they need, from information to resiliency tools.
“Louise has been a beacon of calm and positive spirit despite long, stressful hours and ever-changing demands of her time and expertise. The DPI is lucky to have her on our team. Students and educators are safer and better protected because of her work.”
Upon receiving the award notification letter from the NASSNC, Wilson remained humble, as always. She credited those around her and school nurses for her success in her role and for the honor.
“Every state school nurse consultant is in the position they are in because they are strong school nurse leaders; every state school nurse consultant works tirelessly to support their school nurses, and especially did so during the pandemic,” Wilson said. “In this position, I have the privilege of advocating for and supporting school nurses who provide critical health services to students keeping them alive, safe, healthy, and able to benefit from their education. I am grateful to my supervisor (Susan Piazza) for nominating me, and those who supported my nomination.”
Congratulations, Louise, on a well-deserved honor, and thank you for your commitment to keeping Wisconsin schools, students, staff, families, and communities safe and healthy throughout the pandemic!