RKS/Gateway School – Related Services Provider of the Year: Linda Oliva RN, BSN, NJ-CSN
Gateway School belongs to the ASAH organization that represents most of the private schools for students with disabling conditions in the state of New Jersey. This year Gateway School had the opportunity to nominate a candidate for the ASAH 2017 “Related Services Provider of the Year – Region III”. We took this occasion to recommend our School Nurse – Linda Oliva. On May 4 Ms. Oliva, along with the Principal, Chris Hoye, traveled to the initial interviews for the award. There were approximately ten candidates who had been nominated from our region. This same process was occurring in the other three regions throughout the state of New Jersey.
Linda Oliva RN, BSN, NJ-CSN
Subsequently Linda Oliva was selected as the Region III Finalist and became eligible for the overall winner from the four regions to be selected at the ASAH annual conference on October 27, 2017. The Gateway School, and the entire RKS organization, are very proud of this outstanding accomplishment and recognition.
“As the principal of a private Special Needs Multiple Disabilities School, ages 8 – 21 years old, it is my responsibility to be sure my staff is competent, caring and professional. I have nominated our School Nurse, Linda Oliva, as the Related Services Provider of the Year for her unswerving dedication to our program and our students. Since 2012, she has expanded the school nurse role at Gateway to the absolute benefit of our population. Linda explained her motivation to working in a special needs school environment “fulfills my passion for nursing, my enthusiasm for creative teaching, and a desire to be a part of all students, including those with disabilities, a chance to reach their full potential”.— Dr. Christopher Hoye, Principal of Gateway School
“Nurse Linda”, as our students call her, is 100% committed to our organization, our students and the special education population. She demonstrates this through various activities such as: volunteering and contributing to the school’s Marketing, Health & Safety, and Social Committees; acting as an integral part of the Gateway Crisis Prevention & Intervention (CPI) Team to assist students who are experiencing significant behavior issues; and is an active parent in the two special needs schools her own children attend. Linda was recently honored at The Center School in Somerset as the 2017 Senior Parent for her dedication to the school. She is also a Special Olympics Local Team Coordinator and Coach for her son’s special needs bowling league, coaching children and young adults 8 – 20 years old and attends Gateway School Special Olympic Events to support our student-athletes.
Linda consistently gives complete dedication to projects to benefit our population, such as: taking on the role of the lead nurse, in collaboration with other nurses, to write a Medical Marijuana Policy; development of a Family Life/Sexuality Program that addresses the needs of each specific classroom, addressing cognitive, emotional and age levels of the students; coordination of a school oral hygiene program; identifies areas in need of improvement, offering creative and critical suggestions to improve the student and staff environment and following through to completion (i.e. evaluation of healthiness of snacks sold in the school store; suggestions for healthy ADL cooking activities); collaborates with instructional staff and BCBA to creatively design and carry out inventive strategies to motivate students and help extinguish problem behaviors; and has ongoing collaboration with the BCBA, and our Behavioral Health Care team. Both disciplines are part-time, and Linda bridges communication for continuity of care.
In addition, Linda demonstrates the importance of community relationships through activities such as:
- Volunteering at our Transition Fair, manning the Gateway information table to answer questions and interact with vendors for the benefit of our students
- Maintaining a professional relationship with local emergency personnel
- Development of a communicative relationship with the mental health arm of the local emergency room to better understand how we can work cooperatively;
- Acting as a liaison with parents and students health care team with professionalism, caring and compassion to better meet the needs of our students in a holistic fashion.
Gateway school’s vision is to provide a safe and nurturing environment that offers students a full spectrum of services and supports students with disabling conditions, to include educational and related services, and addresses the emotional, behavioral and mental health needs. Linda understands the importance of this vision by expanding her school nurse role through all of the aforementioned activities which demonstrate her excellence and dedication.
Linda always strives for best practice and use all the resources available to her, such as: membership in the National Association of School Nurse (NASN) and NJ State School Nurses; published in NASN Journal; utilizes o professional organizations/resources as needed i.e. NJ State School Board; and independent continuing education, including the yearly NJ State School Nurse Conference.
At the Annual ASAH conference Linda Oliva was not selected as the overall winner from the category of Related Services, however, we are still very proud of this honor and recognition. If you happen to drop by our school in Carteret, look in the foyer for the plaque commemorating this remarkable achievement.
Our Mission at The Gateway School:
Provide a safe and nurturing educational environment dedicated to the vision that individuals with disabling conditions are entitled to a full and meaningful life.
Chris Hoye, Principal-The Gateway School, Carteret, NJ