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New diocesan schools health and wellness coordinator

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In a year when the health and wellness of students is of the utmost concern, the diocesan Office of Catholic Schools created a position to support educators in meeting the challenge. Beth Bostwick, a nurse practitioner and a parishioner of Holy Spirit Church in Annandale, is the new diocesan school health and wellness coordinator. The full-time position was created from two vacant part-time positions, including nurse coordinator.

Bostwick joined the diocese in November 2020 and became full time in January. Previously, she worked as an emergency room nurse and as a family nurse practitioner. She and her husband, Rob, have twin second grade boys who attend Holy Spirit School in Annandale.

Part of Bostwick’s job has been to support the school nurses in an extremely difficult year. “The nurses, as much as they’re not seeing the standard bumps and cuts and bruises as often, they have taken on a role that is essential to the workings of the schools for this year,” said Bostwick. “They’re working diligently to make sure that if someone has COVID-19, it is not spread in our schools. That is an immense amount of pressure to put on the staff and they’re doing a fantastic job.”

Currently, she’s traveling around the diocese to meet nurses and administrators, and learn how she can serve them. “With this new position, I can be a resource (for the schools), an advocate for them,” she said. “It’s not just about the nurses, it’s about everyone in the school and their health and wellness. If you need a set of eyes on something, (I can be) a second opinion, a sounding board to pursue a positive outcome.”

Though the pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of many, Catholic school students are benefiting from the primarily in-person education, said Bostwick. “At every school I’ve been to, the kids are resilient. They’re smiling, they’re playing. Yes, they have these extra barriers, but they’re happy to be in school.”

Bostwick also is working with counselors and administrators to examine new ways to foster social emotional learning — skills to have healthy relationships with others and oneself — especially for those with learning or intellectual disabilities. “Social emotional learning is a huge topic right now across the nation,” she said. “There is an opportunity to embrace new ways of approaching students, making the child as successful as they can be.” Some schools are doing this by introducing programs such as Friendzy — lesson plans focusing on friendship and the virtues.

Every day, teachers, counselors, nurses, administrators and parents work together to foster the mind, body and soul of the child, and Bostwick is excited to help them. “I’m grateful for the opportunity, I’m grateful for everyone being open to the discussions and the possibilities,” she said. “Right now I’m in the listening phase to look at where we are and where we can go.”

The diocesan Office of Catholic Schools is funded by the annual Bishop’s Lenten Appeal. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021