• Jennifer Holmes - W.B. Goodwin Elementary

Pulse of CCSD- Jennifer Holmes, Goodwin Elementary
  • Jennifer HolmesCharleston native Jennifer Parker Holmes only ever thought about becoming a teacher or a nurse as a young girl. She is living out both dreams at W.B. Goodwin Elementary School as everyone’s favorite nurse.

    “I am glad I went into nursing because I do a lot of teaching and my colleagues, the educators in this building, do a lot of nursing,” said Holmes. “We are a team, all working towards the same goal of serving students. I love my job.”

    As a registered nurse, she has worked in various nursing capacities, from adults to pediatrics. As it happens, she loves doing both. That is why her position at Goodwin is such a good fit.

    “I serve the students and anyone else that walks through these doors,” said Holmes. “I took the roles because I wanted to push myself in my career and face new challenges. In this role, it is all on me, essentially. There is no in-house doctor or co-nurse. My solid background in the field of nursing has allowed me to be successful in this new role and gives me an opportunity to practice medicine independently.”

    Holmes came into the school nursing role as a member of the substitute pool in 2015. It gave her an opportunity to test the waters. In 2017, Holmes went full time and worked under Lead Nurse Sharon Moser at West Ashley High School.

    “Sharon was so great to me,” said Holmes. “She showed me the ropes and taught me so many things. It is different being a school nurse versus working in a hospital. She was patient with me as I was learning and we are still great friends today.”

    Moser said that Holmes was very caring and loving to the students.

    “She was a natural and her caring spirit probably helped her transition into the position of lead nurse very easily,” said Moser. “She always listened to the students and she would try to help the students’ problem solve and work through an issue they were having.”

    When Moser retired, Holmes took over as Lead Nurse. After a short stint at James B. Edwards Elementary School, she moved to Goodwin where she has served for two years.

    “When I retired, I knew the school would be in good hands,” Moser added. “She functioned very well independently and I didn’t have any concerns leaving it in her hands. Jennifer is very loving and really enjoys being around students of all ages. Students often turn to the school nurse when they need extra help. She is easily able to navigate that without any hesitation.”

    Holmes said she loves working with younger students.

    “The kids are amazing,” said Holmes. “They are so self-aware, polite, and sweet. It is a true family here at Goodwin. Principal Natasha Jones sets the tone by example. She loves the students here and gives them that type of motherly love that we all crave. It is contagious and we model that behavior as well. A child that knows they are loved will thrive under most any circumstance.”

    Jones said the school is fortunate to have Nurse Holmes on staff. 

    “She is not only compassionate for our scholars but for the adults as well,” said Jones. “She truly nurtures from the heart.” 

    Ellen Nitz, CCSD’s Director of Nursing Services, agreed

    “It is evident that Jennifer truly cares about her students and staff,” said Nitz. “Her genuine kindness and compassion instantly puts others at ease. She is always willing to go the extra mile to make sure that medical and psychosocial needs are met.” 

    Holmes likes that Goodwin is a small school because not only does the entire staff know each other, but also it enables her to know each student and their families which enables her to provide the wraparound services some families may need. 

    “We build relationships and trust so that if there is a need, families feel comfortable in letting me or my colleagues know,” said Holmes. “We are all here to serve, no matter what that looks like.”

    Additionally, after working so closely with Goodwin’s certified translator, Holmes was inspired to learn Spanish so that she could converse in a more meaningful way with students and families.

    It is more than just putting on a Band-Aid, according to Holmes. She dispenses daily and emergent medication, partners with the Medical University of South Carolina using Telehealth, handles emergencies, and more.

    “I triage, and multi-task because I am just one person,” said Holmes. “Once you find that rhythm you don’t think about it anymore, really. You just do it. My role carries a lot of responsibility and I do not take that lightly. I have to be triple-careful in everything I do. I take those precautions very seriously.”

    Still on call even when off the clock

    Medical professionals are called by honor and duty to respond to an emergency if they are able. Holmes has been tested with this twice in the last five years. She considers herself to have been in the right place at the right time when, on two different occasions, she saved a person’s life by administering the Heimlich maneuver. In both instances, restaurant patrons were choking on their food.

    “It was a teenager the first time,” said Holmes. “It was a surreal, out-of-body experience. It was so automatic it was hard to wrap my mind around it. I just did it.”

    Holmes said that the second time felt the same way, only this time it was much more serious because the elderly female had been choking for quite some time.

    “She was not okay,” Holmes explained. “Often people are scared to perform life-saving techniques because they are scared they will do it wrong. To me, some help is better than no help.”

    Colleague Mary Stansell, the literary interventionist at Goodwin, bragged about Holmes and her unwavering commitment to the medical profession.

    “To be in the right moment at the right time has got to be a blessing,” said Stansell. “She certainly is a blessing to us.”

    A dream job

    “I love my job, not just because I love this profession, but because of the unending support I receive from my school administrators and from Ellen Nitz (Executive Director of Nursing Services) and her team,” said Holmes. “Ellen is a force. She gets stuff done and stays on top of everything until it gets done She is great at her job and great at making sure we have everything we need.”

    Holmes added that her nurse liaison, Liz Brady, were a continuous source of encouragement and support.

    “We’ve worked together since my start with the district and she is amazing,” said Holmes.

    The Charleston County School District’s (CCSD) Nursing Services Department is a strong leader in the state, according to Holmes.

    “The practices put into place during COVID-19 is an example of that, and the fact that they were modeled across the state and even the country, speaks volumes,” added Holmes.

    Nursing is a calling

    Jennifer Holmes“Even though he was in the care of hospice I still took on the role of caregiver because I felt that was my duty to my father,” said Holmes. “Looking back, I don’t know how I did it all, but I did it to honor him, and I am thankful my expertise in medical care allowed me to.”

    Holmes’ motto is that ‘you can do anything you put your mind to,” which is something her father taught her while growing up.

    “That keeps me tenacious,” said Holmes. I share those same words with my daughter Parker (a senior at Wando) who is named after my dad. She knows to never give up and keep on going.”