Head nurse Joyce Hirsh has been named School Nurse of the Year by the Union County School Nurses Association.
By Gary Miller
Linden Public Schools head nurse Joyce Hirsch has been honored as Union County School Nurse of the Year.
The choice was made by the Union County School Nurses Association, which gives the award to someone who has demonstrated excellence in both school nursing practice and leadership in school health.
“It comes as absolutely no surprise to me that Joyce has been recognized with the Union County School Nurse of the Year Award,” said Steven Viana, director of health, physical education, medical services, and athletics. “Every single day when she comes to work, she brings her passion, her expertise, and her professionalism all to the table. In my opinion, she not just the school nurse of the year this year, but every year. Congratulations on this prestigious and amazing achievement.”
Hirsch was scheduled to be surprised with her award at the association’s virtual meeting on May 4, which was attended by more than 100 nurses. But she spotted the announcement in an errant email about the meeting’s agenda. She was, however, surprised with a tribute video put together by several of Linden’s school nurses who serve under her.
“In retrospect it was probably better for me to have the time to process it ahead of the meeting,” she said. “I have yet to fully process the video though. I will cherish it for a long time to come. This award and video mean more to me than I can possibly express because it comes from the very people I have worked with day in and day out for years. We are a small department, but we are unique in our roles and the contributions we bring to Linden Public Schools.”
Hirsch has been working in health care for 40 years and has been with Linden Public Schools for the past 23 years. She started as a school nurse at School No. 9 in 1997, then moved to Linden High School in 2013.
“Having moved from elementary to the high school gave me the opportunity to follow so many of them right through their school careers,” she said. “I’ve seen them mature and grow in their self-reliance – especially the students with chronic illnesses – and self-confidence. I love being a part of their story and having them be part of mine.”
Interim Superintendent Denise Cleary called Hirsch “a shining light.”
“I couldn’t be more proud to say she is my colleague,” Cleary said. “This distinct honor is so well-deserved and I have to say that Linden is lucky to have her.”
Before becoming a nurse, Hirsch worked as a medical assistant and as a hospital staffing supervisor. She became head nurse for Linden Public Schools in 2015.
“Linden has been my work home for 23 years and I’ve probably seen just about everything,” Hirsch said. “I’ve been so fortunate to have had wonderful administrators, faculty and staff to work with over the years. When I look back on my career, I’ll remember the challenges and rewards, the co-workers and the families. But most of all I’ll remember the children. They have been some of the biggest challenges and greatest rewards for me. Some I will remember forever.”