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Highmark Foundation honors three nurses with its Excellence in School Nursing Award

April 6, 2015 | Pittsburgh, Pa.

PITTSBURGH (May 6, 2015) — Three nurses were honored by the Highmark Foundation today with Excellence in School Nursing Awards, recognizing the important role that school nurses play in keeping children healthy. Kathleen Macurak, of South Fayette Township School District in Allegheny County, Carol Madden, of Big Spring School District in Cumberland County and Janet Allio, of Kanawha County Schools in Charleston, W.Va., will each receive $1,500 to use for professional development or programs at their respective schools.

Kathleen Macurak was nominated by the superintendent of the South Fayette Township School District, in part because of her dedication to improving the educational experience for children with chronic health conditions, specifically cystic fibrosis. She is an advocate for students with the disease, and has worked to make audio novels available for them to use while they're undergoing treatments, as well as to help normalize their school experience.

As the head nurse of the Big Spring School District, Carol Madden has instituted multiple health initiatives for the schools in her district, including programs focused on eating disorders, STDs, teen pregnancy, the implementation of automated external defibrillators and general wellness. Most recently, she developed a comprehensive protocol to help staff deal with students who have possible concussions.

Students at Kanawha County Schools in Charleston, W.Va. who have been exposed to trauma or violence still have the opportunity to succeed in school with the help of the Handle with Care Program. Award-winner Janet Allio collaborated with the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of West Virginia and the Charleston Police Department to develop and implement this program, where children who have been exposed to violent or traumatic events are identified, and school staff is alerted. The staff can monitor these students, utilize effective interventions and determine if they require additional services. As a result of the success of the program and overwhelming requests from communities across West Virginia and other states, the governor created the West Virginia Center for Children's Justice, which will provide support and technical assistance to help implement the Handle with Care Program state-wide.

"School nurses do more than just tend to scraped knees and upset stomachs," said Yvonne Cook, president, Highmark Foundation. "They play an integral role in keeping our kids healthy. We are proud to be able to honor these three nurses, who are going above and beyond to protect and improve the health of the children in their care."

About the Highmark Foundation

The Highmark Foundation is a private, charitable organization of Highmark Inc. that supports initiatives and programs aimed at improving community health. The Foundation's mission is to improve the health, well-being and quality of life for individuals who reside in the communities served by Highmark Inc. The Foundation strives to support evidence-based programs that impact multiple counties and work collaboratively to leverage additional funding to achieve replicable models. For more information, visit


Kelly DeAngelis
Highmark Foundation