July is “National Make a Difference to Children Month.” With the start of school less than four weeks away, a local school nurse recently shared with the Courier the ways in which she tries to make a difference to children every day.
Shiri Thomas-Selby, 35, is the school nurse at Joseph Martin Elementary. The Shreveport, La., native’s husband, Sgt. Ricky Selby, currently is deployed to Iraq. She has a son, JaV’ea Shamal Selby, 13, so she’s no stranger to caring for children.
Thomas-Selby teaches classes in personal hygiene and proper handwashing technique. In the past, she has collected uniforms and provided them to children in need. And she said she tries to help students in a variety of other ways, such as:
1. “As a school nurse, I have gotten a better understanding of what most kids have to deal with — i.e. school, home, friends and just life in general. Some kids live very difficult lives. Just being that smiling face helps that child through that day,” Thomas-Selby said.
2. “At times, as a school nurse, I can help parents, guardians and grandparent with assistance or information that is not readily available to a child,” she said.
3. “Every day during the school year, I make daily rounds on campus so the kids know that I am there. Just seeing my face sometimes makes a child feel better, feel safe.”
4. “Most of my students will tell you I treat them like they are my own. Whether it’s medical or if I see a child in the office in trouble or upset about a bad grade or excited about a great accomplishment, I show compassion, empathy. I give encouragement — whatever that child needs for whatever the situation,” Thomas-Selby said.
5. “One of the simple tasks I do as a school nurse for children is to make a difference in their lives by showing that I care.” she said. “A hug can speak volumes to a child. I may hug at least 100-plus children a day, but that one simple thing is the one thing a child needs. Sometimes, someone showing a child that someone cares is as simple as giving a hug.”