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Presented May 25, 2021

It is our great honor to announce that the 2021 Masonic Educator of the Year is Sandra Bird, the Ferndale School District’s longest tenured school nurse.

Sandy has been employed by the District since 1995. While her current assignment includes Cascadia Elementary, Eagleridge Elementary, and North Bellingham Learning Center, we are pretty sure that she has worked at all of our schools at one time or another during her 26-year tenure. We know for certain that she cares about the health and safety of all of our students and all of their families and all of us. She has demonstrated that care over and over again during the past 14 months as we have struggled to navigate a pandemic that has had us all reeling.

Even before the pandemic, being a school nurse was a challenging role. Like her school nurse colleagues, Sandy has always done so much more than hand out bandages, pills, and ice packs. She is the one who has paved the way into the classroom for the child who is newly diagnosed with diabetes, and the child who has experienced a severe asthma exacerbation, and the child who suffers from life-threatening food allergies. She is often the first responder to youth issues revealed in schools, like mental health challenges, food insecurity, and child abuse. She is the bridge for many of our students between the management of chronic conditions and safe education, allowing teachers to do what they do best -- teach -- without having to worry about student insulin pumps, inhalers, EpiPens, and the like.

To her already-challenging work life, Covid-19 added a whole new universe of issues and concerns to Sandy’s plate. Like other health care providers, she has been on the front lines of the pandemic since the public health emergency was first declared and especially since we have had students back on our campuses. She has taken temperatures and checked attestations. She has educated staff and students on such Covid-19 safety practices as mask wearing, hand washing, physical distancing, and symptom tracking. She has kept tabs on which students are absent because of symptoms, which have been tested, who is in quarantine because of close contact, and who is cleared to return to school. She has made dozens and dozens of phone calls as part of the contact tracing process -- regardless of the day or hour. When a positive Covid case has been confirmed on a Friday afternoon, Sandy has spent her weekend calling close contacts. In short, she has figured out how to manage and monitor Covid-19 in the schools she serves in addition to all of her traditional responsibilities.

But that’s not all. Sandy has also taken on significant district-level responsibilities during the pandemic. She devoted part of last summer to serving on Ferndale’s Reopening Task Force. She was instrumental in writing our district’s initial health and safety guidelines. She kept abreast of changes in the guidance coming from multiple sources and then rewrote those health and safety guidelines to align with the changes. She led the training of district nurses on health and safety protocols. She attended weekly meetings with the Whatcom County Health Department and shared what she learned with our other nurses. She helped coordinate fit testing of PPE for district staff working in the highest risk positions. Overall, she has been a tireless resource for both administrators and nurses as they have navigated these uncharted waters and encountered a variety of new and unknown situations.

In fact, since the outset of the pandemic, Sandy Bird has stepped up to every challenge that has come her way. And the rest of us have been so incredibly grateful for everything she has shared and all she has given -- her medical knowledge and perspective; her ability to adapt and problem solve; her deep care and compassion; and the profound trust of parents, students, and staff. Over and over again, she has risen to this infamous occasion, and her role and her voice have been invaluable.   

For all of these reasons, we are thrilled to name Sandy Bird as the Ferndale School District’s 2021 Masonic Educator of the Year.