Summit Charter Receives grant from Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation to fund school nurse

Full-time position to improve student access to health professionals, student attendance, and the overall well-being of student body  

Summit Charter School announced it has received a grant from the Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation to fund a full-time school nurse for one year.

Zandra Wingfield has fulfilled the full-time position and started on Oct. 16. This is the first time the school has had the funding capacity to hire a nursing position. Summit strives to graduate students who are academically prepared, engaged in the community, healthy, and strong in character.

“We are extremely grateful for the Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation’s generous support of our whole-child focus at Summit,” said Head of School Kurt Pusch. “For the first time in our school’s history, Summit is able to staff a full-time school nurse to directly serve student and staff wellness on our campus. We believe that as a community school, being able to provide this level of care on campus is an important service to our families, students, and staff, resulting in long-term benefits to our students’ growth and development. This would not be possible without the generous support of the Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation.”

Summit school nurse Zandra Wingfield is all smiles with the Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic’s tooth mascot as she manages dental screenings at the school on Monday, November 18. The Clinic offers dental screenings and dental health education to all Summit students, K-10. This past school year, the Clinic expanded the program to include Summit high school students and addressed behaviors and health decisions that teens are faced with that can negatively affect oral health—neglect, poor hygiene, food and beverage choices, substance abuse and eating disorders. 

Zandra Wingfield graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and is a Registered Nurse. During her time at the University of Florida, she received the UF College of Nursing Alumni Council Book Award, the UF College of Nursing MSC Patriot Award, and the LT Fouke UF Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) Leadership Award. Her previous work experience includes roles at the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at UF Health, Bayada Home Health, Lifepoints Corp, and Highlands Family Medicine. She is married to Eric Wingfield and has a three-year-old son named Samuel who attends Cashiers Valley Preschool.

“I feel tremendously honored and grateful to be joining the Summit Family,” said Wingfield. “In the four years that my family and I have lived in the area, we have grown to love the unique bond that our small community shares and cannot imagine living anywhere else.”

She added that she’s joining a terrific crew.

“It is a huge blessing to work with an incredible team of people who truly love and care for these students, all while getting to continue pursuing my passion for pediatric nursing in this beautiful town we call home,” she said. “I have been welcomed with open arms, had some laughs and sweet moments with students so far, and love hearing and watching the vision of Summit’s leadership and staff come to life on a daily basis. I’m very excited to grow in my role as Summit’s school nurse, and to play a small part in tending to and watching these future leaders grow up to bring change to our world!”

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a school nurse has a crucial role in the seamless provision of comprehensive health services to children and youth. Not only do school nurses have the expertise to provide proper care, they help keep children in class and allow faculty to focus on their core missions. A 2014 Kaiser Health study determined that without a school nurse on campus, teachers spend 26 minutes a day each on health-related matters. With a school nurse around, that number drops to six minutes a day.

“A child’s health is an invariably important factor in their learning,” said Pusch. “Providing a school nurse for our Summit students will improve student access to health professionals, student attendance, and the overall well-being of our student body.” 

Robin Tindall, executive director and CEO of the Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation, said, “Our Foundation is pleased to support Summit Charter School’s commitment to nurturing the health of its student body. This initiative directly aligns with our focus areas of improving access to healthcare and support for education. We wholeheartedly congratulate them on putting our grant funds to use in fulfilling this important need.”

Pictured at the top of the article is Summit’s new school nurse Zandra Wingfield with Head of School Kurt Pusch on Summit’s campus. 

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