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Highmark Foundation honors seven nurses with its second annual Advancing Excellence in School Nursing Awards

May 11, 2016 | Pittsburgh, Pa.

Advancing Excellence in School Nursing Award

Each Advancing Excellence in School Nursing Award winner will receive $1,500 to use for professional development or health-related programs at their respective schools and a statue created by Roland Metal Art in Johnstown, Pa.

PITTSBURGH (May 11, 2016) — Commemorating National School Nurse Day today, the Highmark Foundation announced seven winners of its second annual Advancing Excellence in School Nursing Awards, created to honor and recognize the important role that school nurses play in keeping children healthy. Award winners each receive $1,500 to use for professional development or health-related programs at their respective schools.

"The Highmark Foundation acknowledges that schools are powerful places to shape the health, safety, education and well-being or our children, and we understand the importance of the contributions school nurses make to keep kids healthy," said Highmark Foundation President Yvonne Cook. "We initiated the Advancing Excellence in School Nursing Awards because it's important that their efforts are recognized."

The awards were presented in five categories for the first time this year, highlighting the dynamic role of school nurses:

  1. School Nursing Practice & Leadership winners demonstrate leadership in school health, exhibit qualities of care and compassion and/or publish research.
  2. Transformation winners work towards positive change in the delivery of school health care and prevention services and/or advance school nursing by sharing best practices and innovations.
  3. Spirit of the Year winners serve as a role model and display a love for the school nursing profession; compassion and caring for students, staff and families; and a willingness to learn and advance the school nursing profession.
  4. Collaboration winners form partnerships with other school districts, health care providers and health systems and/or locate resources and assistance for students, staff and families that may otherwise not be available.
  5. School Nursing Advocacy winners illustrate advocacy efforts at the national, state or local level and/or address legislative issues that impact school nursing services and student health.

The seven 2016 Advancing Excellence in School Nursing Awards were selected by a panel of judges from nominations received across the regions that the Highmark Foundation serves throughout West Virginia and Pennsylvania (excluding Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties). The winners, listed alphabetically by award category along with town of residence, title and school/school district served, include:

  • School Nursing Practice & Leadership
    • Maureen Callas, of Pittsburgh, Pa., certified school nurse, Duquesne City Education Center
    • Carrie Piccinini, of Edinboro, Pa., certified school nurse, Edinboro Elementary School
  • Transformation
    • Maureen Mahoney, of Nicholson, Pa., certified school nurse, Lackawanna Trail Elementary Center
  • Spirit of the Year
    • Joyce Cotroneo, of Delmont, Pa., certified school nurse, Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children
    • Bethany Kilinsky, of Jefferson Hills, certified school nurse, Elizabeth Forward School District
  • Collaboration
    • Charity Istone, of Hampton Township, Pa., certified school nurse, North Allegheny Intermediate High School
  • School Nursing Advocacy
    • Ellen Danowski, of Erie, Pa., certified school nurse, The Barber National Institute Elizabeth Lee Black School

"School nurses do more than just tend to scraped knees and upset stomachs. They play an integral role in their students' overall health and well-being," said Cook. "We at the Highmark Foundation are proud to be able to honor these seven nurses who are going above and beyond to protect and improve the health of the children in their care."

Award presentations will take place at the winners' schools on dates agreed upon by the Highmark Foundation and School Administration. Winners will also receive a statue created by Roland Metal Art in Johnstown, Pa.

For additional information and event dates and times, contact Jane Brooks at

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


David Misner
Highmark Health