School Nurses

NJCCN Supporting and Preparing School Nurses for Community Action

New Jersey School Health Leadership Program

P.I.: Edna Cadmus, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN
Program Director: Danielle Cooper, MPH
Nurse Consultant: Beth Jameson, PhD, MSN, RN, CSN-NJ

Grant ID: 71982
Date Covered: 08/15/2016-08/14/2017 (NCE 8/15/17-6/30/2018)
Total Grant Amount: $516,000
Goal: To evolve school nurses as leaders in their communities through a population health lens.


NJCCN’s New Jersey School Health Leadership Program was funded through a grant from New Jersey Health Initiatives, a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The program was intended to provide school nurses with leadership skills so that they could actualize their potential to contribute to the health of their communities as a whole.

Though the program has come to an end, the results of our work continue to grow. A series of mini-grants enabled school nurses to demonstrate their leadership abilities through projects that contributed to the health of their schools and communities. School nurses can continue to use our publication, 21st Century School Nurse Leadership: Moving Evidence into Action, as a guide for taking initiative and implementing evidence-based best practices. The publication is available for free on our website at

The goals of the project were to:

  1. Promote a a positive image of school nurses within their community
  2. Evolve school nurses as leaders through a population health lens
  3. Support the current fellows in the program

Please explore the resources below to find out how we accomplished our goals and made accomplishments that will have a lasting impact on the health of New Jersey’s schools and communities.

Goal 1: Promote a positive image of school nurses within their community

School Nurse Retreats

Three retreats were conducted between February 2017 and July 2017 with the goal of assessing the needs of school nurses related to community engagement. A facilitator was subcontracted to help design the school nurse retreats, and leadership of NJSSNA worked with the PI and facilitator to create agendas. It was determined that the NASN’s Framework for 21st Century School Nursing Practice™ would provide the structure. With the Framework as guidance, school nurse teams identified topic areas, barriers, potential solutions, and available resources.

From brainstorming sessions at the school nurse retreats, four concerns were identified. 1) Gaps in educational enrichment opportunities for school nurses 2) The need for school nurses to receive Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) training to better equip school nurses to assist students experiencing mental health and substance use challenges 3) Guides/templates evidence-based strategies needed to ensure best practices 4) Community engagement resources were needed to support daily school nursing practice

Partners: NJSSNA


  • School Nurse Retreat Attendees: 156
  • The gaps served as the inspiration for toolkit development entitled 21st Century School Nurse Leadership Moving Evidence into Action
  • Toolkit USB mailing has begun, recipients include school nurse retreat attendees
  • Printed toolkit will be given to school nurses at the 2019 NJSSNA Spring Conference
  • A “how to” webinar has been created and will be available on NJCCN’s website

Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA)

Training was conducted between March 2017 and June 2017. This 8-hour course teaches how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of addiction and mental illnesses. At each retreat, the school nurses indicated the need for educational support and resources to address the mental health and substance use concerns within their school communities.
Partners: New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA), MHANJ, Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET), Rutgers School of Nursing Center for Professional Development for nursing continuing education credits


  • 14 programs offered, 268 school nurses trained
  • 1 exclusive training for school nurses in South Jersey at Rutgers-Camden
  • 2 trainings in North Jersey at Rutgers-Newark
  • 1 onsite training at the Middletown Township Board of Education
  • 3 at Newark Public School District for their district school nurses held on their professional development day
  • 7 trainings were held in Princeton at NJHA and attended by school nurses across the state
  • NJ Governor’s Council on Mental Health Stigma Ambassador Award was presented to Danielle Cooper in April 2018. This award recognized school based professionals that have provided effective supports, services or programs that reduce the ways in which society stigmatizes people with mental illness.
  • Funded 2 school nurses to become YMHFA Instructors (Each instructor provided 2 of the 14 YMHFA trainings)
  • Nursing continuing education credits for all programs were provided and can be used for their licensure renewal


During the grant period, NJCCN met with leadership at the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE), New Jersey Department of Mental Health (NJDMH), New Jersey Department of Health, and the New Jersey Association of School Psychologists (NJASP). In addition, we collaborated with New Jersey State School Nurses Association (NJSSNA), New Jersey State Nurses Association (NJSNA), and New Jersey Action Coalition (NJAC) and met with Senator Vitale to discuss the successful work of the school health leadership program and provided education on the need for additional mental health programming for school nurses.


  • A 2-page educational document was produced to provide current facts, school health leadership program outcomes, and the current data regarding mental health issues in NJ
  • All organizations were supportive of the work school nurses are doing and agree with the need to have YMHFA for school nurses
  • Senator Vitale’s office has taken the steps to evaluate the need for legislation

New Jersey Action Coalition Coaches

School nurses have become coaches and have joined the New Jersey Action Coalition (NJAC). They are committed to engaging in existing community projects to promote an outcome of healthier communities, well-being and equity for New Jersey citizens.

School Nurse Coach Outcomes:

  • As of the conclusion of the grant, there were twenty (23) nurse coaches of which thirteen (13) are school nurses. Coaching is an opportunity to take a leadership position within their county. Nurse volunteers contribute their time, expertise and passion for community and organizational projects with the ultimate goal to impact health.
Goal 2: Evolve school nurses as leaders through a population health lens


School Health Leadership Grants

Request for Proposal (RFP) process was conducted and grant applications were reviewed by a committee including NJHI, NJSSNA and NJCCN. Four school health leadership teams were selected and awarded up to $10,000 to implement an evidence-based program that would be collaborative and promote positive learning and health outcomes.

PG Chambers School (PGCS) Hanover, New Jersey Title: The Whole Child Initiative: Building a Culture of Health within P.G. Chambers School. Addressed the findings of the Healthy School Report Card. Implemented FITTE with disabled students to improve physical activity, movement, and nutritional counseling.

Outcomes:  Provided Fitbits and pedometers for students to measure improvement in activity and also measured pulse oximetry to ensure students were managed safely. Created health fairs and parent workshops, developed individualized plans, nutrition consultant brought in, increased healthy food options, and conducted a nutritional workshop for parents. They also provided dental screenings for the children.

Partners: Lifetime Fitness of Berkeley Heights, Shop Rite of Morris Plains, Kings in Summit, Kings in Gillette, Karen Kuran, Nicole Nilan, Summit Mom’s Group

Matawan Aberdeen Regional School District (MARSD), Matawan, New Jersey Title: Youth Health Initiative: Meeting Matawan-Aberdeen Parents where they are- Community Conversations. Provided 6-week online parent engagement workshops modules contracting with Montclair State University and two face-to-face meetings to address social-emotional and mental health. Held two programs with the mayors of Aberdeen and Matawan to address issues of concern.

Outcomes: Successful online series entitled, Young children & stress: Gaining insight so you can be a source of calm received 255 views in 6 weeks.

Partners: Montclair State University – Center for Autism and Early Childhood Mental Health; Dianna Pell – Grant Writer/Parent; Fred Tagliarini – Aberdeen Township Mayor; Joseph Altomonte – Borough of Matawan Mayor; Tonia Ahern – Treatment Advocate through the Mental Health Association in New Jersey, Parent-to-Parent and National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence-New Jersey; Lynn Johnson – Community Health Worker/Visiting Nurse Association Health Group; Jenna Andolora – Project Coordinator, Monmouth County Council for Young Children/Visiting Nurse Association Health Group; Alix Hayes – Regional Public Relations/Special Events Manager; Boscov’s Department Stores, LLC; Corinne G. Catalano, Assistant Director for Consultation Services, Center for Autism and Early Childhood Mental Health, College of Education and Human Services, Montclair State University

North Brunswick Township School District (NBTSD), North Brunswick, NJ Title: Improving Attendance in students identified as chronically absent in kindergarten. Identified reasons that impacted student attendance through survey with parents. Used fairs, educational programs, health clinics to help parents without insurance; they did home assessments as needed to identify issues and provided transportation to improve attendance. Created a culture of success vs failure.

Outcomes:  Reduced chronic absenteeism by 50% during grant period

Partners: Saint Peter’s University, Community Mobile Health and Advocates for Children of NJ, School District

Matawan Aberdeen Regional School District, Matawan NJ Title: Addressing Food Insecurity and Early Detection Vision Screening. Collaborated with the local grocer and recommended more healthy foods. They provided vouchers to help families obtain food during summer. They purchased a vision screener to help detect visual problems earlier.

Outcomes: The early vision screens detected 237 vision concerns and provided nutritional food for over 100 individual family members.

Partners: Aberdeen Police Department, Livoti’s Old World Market

Population Health Grants

The RFP process was completed and 2 population health teams received $500 population health initiative grants to conduct Community Cafés. Community Cafés are structured conversations around specific topics. This model is based on the World Café model of small group conversations to promote community engagement and empowerment through the power and art of conversations.

These grants served as seed funding to support school nurses and their community partners as they collectively focused on optimal health outcomes and academic success for all students. Grantees received a coach to assist them in their planning and implementation phases. The coach also attended the cafés. All grants required school nurses to recruit an interdisciplinary team and utilize NASN’s Framework for 21st Century School Nursing Practice™

Red Bank School District, Monmouth County: Community Cafés covered the topic of Health and Wellness/ Preventative Screenings and Education.

Café 1: Pre-K mothers’ health café provided breast health, postpartum education, skin and dental health and local resources that offers both food and clothing to Monmouth county residents.

Café 2: Preschool Parents cafe provided resources and supportive information for parents to navigate the school system while balancing family needs.

Outcomes: The two cafés had a total of 80 attendees. A video was created to summarize the project and its outcomes. The cafes will continue and the partners have agreed to continue these conversations.

Partners: Meridian Health, Accredited Dermatology and Skin Center, Central Jersey Family Health Consortium, Riverview Medical Center, Clara’s Closet, School staff (school attendance & absenteeism) and Pre-K coach

Mi Casita Daycare Center, Camden County: Title: My Daddy Counts Too Café. Café focused on father engagement. The purpose of these cafes was to address identified co-parenting challenges while ensuring the social and emotional health of the preschool children involved. With a goal to increase male participation in the health and education of their young children.

Partners: Fathers on Track, an initiative of Planned Parenthood of Northern, Central and Southern New Jersey, Inc.

Outcomes: The four cafés had a total of 81 attendees. A dad’s corner was developed to help fathers/paternal caregivers raise young children. Father/paternal caregivers continue peer-to-peer meetings to offer support. These cafes were re-named by this group as the Love Net Cafe as they all shared a common love for children

Summary of Grant Outcomes

  • 217 In-person and online parent education sessions completed
  • 40 families identified by school nurses received 10 weeks of weekly food distribution
  • 2,182 students received early vision screenings; 237 referrals were made for treatment
  • 384 students participated in wellness screenings and preventive education/care
  • 1,532 students participated in an incentivized school attendance art project
  • 2,947 completed an attendance pledge
  • 2,429 students and families attended events promoting learning and health
  • 161 parents attended 6 community cafes and discuss community engagement and wellness
  • All six grantees will continue to collect data and provide programs to address the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child and continue to promote academic success and optimal health

Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS)

Facilitated by The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in collaboration with NJAC, this experience allowed school nurses and other attendees to experience first-hand the struggles of living in poverty. Students and other volunteers role-played a week in the life of individuals living in poverty, experiencing their day-to-day hardship and high-stress situations where both their own lives and their families’ security were at stake.

Partners: TCNJ, NJNI, NJAC

Outcomes: The Poverty Simulation had 44 attendees. This experience re-enforced both a positive image for our school nurses and allowed them to promote the use of social determinants in school health

Regional Focus Groups

NJCCN collaborated with NJSSNA and facilitated three regional focus groups (North, Central and South) attended by selected school nurses within those regions to evaluate the guidelines created by NJSSNA.

Outcomes: The 150 focus group attendees identified themes and highlighted the concerns addressed at the focus groups

  • Provided feedback to NJSSNA to incorporate into their final revision
  • Attendees: 150

New Jersey Association of School Psychologist (NJASP) collaboration

On May 11, 2018, attended NJASP Spring Conference as an exhibitor at Holiday Inn East Windsor. An invitation was extended by the president of NJASP following a conversation to inform him of the work school nurses are doing in NJ schools to address the mental health needs of students. The completed YMHFA trainings by school nurses and their districts were highlighted.

Outcomes: The conference had 70 attendees. NJCCN spoke with school psychologists, social workers, and other school-based professionals about the work our school nurse grantees are doing including YMHFA. Invited to attend upcoming Executive Board Meeting to discuss the continued collaboration with NJASP. Invited to attend upcoming Students Taking Action Together (STAT) workshops to support social-emotional programming in schools and to support the interdisciplinary collaboration

Community Engagement Symposium

An upstream approach to healthy community conversations while addressing the opioid crisis in NJ. The goal was to educate participants on evidence-based practices to address community/public health concerns that have a negative impact on communities. The symposium was attended by School Nurses; Administrators; Educators; Law Enforcement; Community Members; Faith-based Community Members; School Personnel; Mental Health, Substance Abuse, School Nurses and other Public Health Professionals

Outcomes: The symposium had 73 attendees who participated in interactive demonstrations on Naloxone administration, and Community Café training teaser and table conversations. School nurses led the moderation and educational content delivery. NJCCN distributed an RFP for Community Café mini grant proposals.

Partners: Erin Maughan (NASN); Lyndhurst Police Department; Change Addiction Now; Mi Casita Child Development Center (Camden); Narcan Demonstration (school nurse) healthcare & policy expert (nurse), community engagement consultant (public health), and NJAC; New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF)

School Health Leadership Showcase: Linkages that Drive Outcomes and Solutions

This showcase was designed to highlight NJ school health leaders and NJAC nurse coaches volunteers and illustrate linkages that drive solutions. In addition, presentations and resources were provided to update attendees on legislation concerning the opioid crisis in NJ. Panelists, school nurses, nurse volunteers, and community partners presented their work to create healthier communities in NJ.

Outcomes: The showcase had 58 attendees. School nurses led moderation and presentations. NJCCN Highlighted the outcomes of our school nurse mini grants and created linkages to other partners.

Partners: NJAC; NJ Healthcare Quality Institute/Aunt Bertha; CVS Minute Clinic; NJSSNA; MHA of NJ; School Nurse MHFA Instructors; New Jersey School Nurse Advisory Board

Toolkit: 21st Century School Nurse Leadership Moving Evidence into Action

The purpose of this toolkit is to identify how the principles and components of the Framework for 21st Century School Nursing Practice™ can serve as an evidence-based guide for school nurses to implement school health projects with the goal of promoting student and/or community/public health outcomes. The toolkit is designed to help school health professionals plan projects and enlist stakeholders. Stakeholders within schools include school nurses, their supervisors, and school administrators. Stakeholders within the broader community include anyone who is interested in promoting competency, quality and evidence-based research and/or projects in focusing on school nursing practice. An extensive literature review was conducted and a resource guide completed to support this evidence-based product. In addition, each key framework principle has a quick start fact that provides ideas, goals, action steps, resources, measure outcomes and social media.


156 school nurses attended retreats on February 4th, May 6th and July 27th. Copies of our toolkit were distributed at the 2019 Spring NJSSNA conference as hard copies and on jump drives. Attendees were encouraged to share the toolkits with colleagues. A PDF of the toolkit can be found on our website at

Goal 3: Support the current fellows in the program

In collaboration with the Mental Health Association of New Jersey, two Johnson and Johnson School Health Fellows were selected to receive funding to become YMHFA instructors. These fellows were already demonstrated school nurse leaders with training experience, and this training empowered them to expand their leadership to wider community settings.


  • 2 fellows have been trained and have completed 2 YMHFA training each for the school health leadership program
  • 2 of 6 selected school health leadership grant teams included 3 fellows
  • Community Café training, population health coach, educational enrichment provided by a fellow
  • Legislative updates and Naloxone demonstrations provided by a fellow
  • 5 of the 9 selected New Jersey School Nurse Advisory Board members are fellows
  • 2 fellows collaborated with MHANJ and trained 120 of the 268 school nurses
  • The 2 fellows provided mental health education for 109 school nurses in their district and community