Nurse Colley shifts from student to caregiver at W.F. Burns

Published 9:00 am Friday, July 28, 2023

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Hollye Colley, like many who serve the students of Chambers County Schools, was born and raised in the Valley and attended the same schools. In fact, she has her name written on it — literally. 

In the back of one of the cabinets in the W.F. Burns nurse’s room, Colley’s name is written dating back to her middle school days. Even in those days, she always knew that one day she would be a nurse. 

Colley said she is a wife and mother “first and foremost.” Her passion for serving people as a nurse comes from her insight and empathy as a mother. 

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“I chose school nursing because I feel led to take care of these kids,” Colley said. “But also because I’m a mother. And being in the schools where my children attend is very valuable, I feel very blessed that I get to do that and be a part of their daily activities.”

At W.F. Burns Middle School, Colley makes connections a priority with her students. She collects hygiene essentials so that students can come by anytime and grab a toothbrush, deodorant or sanitary product. 

Colley’s oldest son attended W.F. Burns for the past three years. She said she enjoyed getting to be more involved with his schooling by working at his school. When he moves on to high school in the fall, he will be replaced by her secondborn, and after that, her youngest will follow. 

Though Colley enjoys getting to be present for her sons’ sporting events and other extracurriculars, she said she also likes to cheer on the rest of her students as well. Many of her students come back to school the next day and ask her if she got photos of them that she can share. 

“My passion really comes from getting to know these kids and developing that bond with them,” Colley said. “Knowing that they can talk to me, and there’s no judgment.”

With COVID-19, a lot about the field of school nursing shifted. The prevalence of the spread in schools put a spotlight on how important nurses are to schools. 

School nurses also often have to aid with seizures, asthma attacks, panic attacks and cardiac incidents. Last year, Chambers County School District installed AED defibrillators on school campuses in the event of cardiac arrest. 

“Because they have realized that what we do truly is life-changing. We have kids that could not be in this building if there’s not a nurse here,” she said. 

Middle school is a time of transition for children, not just in their academic journey but their personal responsibilities. Colley has helped many of her diabetic students to meet state requirements to become independent by the time they reach high school.

“Seeing a child go from completely dependent to independent because of things we’ve done to help them get there, it’s very rewarding to have,” Colley said.

Colley said since she has been working with the school system, she has realized that school nursing is work to be taken seriously. Serving her students has made her feel that each day she is making a difference in someone’s life. 

“In all the nursing jobs that I have done, I have felt the most fulfilled doing this,” she said. “At the end of the day, I have helped kids, one way or another, all day long.”

As many of her coworkers would agree, Colley has been grateful for the network of support that Chambers County School District’s nurses have provided. Though they work independently in their day-to-day, they maintain close contact with each other and support each other.