Parent Shares Appreciation for Columbia Elementary Staff

Educators in Action

This school year, Columbia Elementary School parent, Jen Reidel reached out to Superintendent Greg Baker to share her appreciation for the Columbia staff who showed extra care to her daughter after she was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes.

In her email she explained that her eight-year old daughter, Claire, had been diagnosed with Type I Diabetes in August. She said as she sat at Seattle Children’s Hospital with her daughter, she wondered who would help her daughter at Columbia Elementary School.

“I wondered who would help with her blood sugar tests. Who would be the second set of eyes as she determines how much insulin to inject? What if her care is too much of a burden to her teacher?” said Reidel.

Reidel said one week after her daughter’s hospitalization, she sat in a meeting with principal Julie Batten, school nurse Shelly Donahue, Claire’s third grade teacher Susie Pevonak, paraeducator Marcie Thran and school secretary Michele Foster to discuss a health plan.

“The love and care they collectively showed to our daughter and to my husband and me is indescribable,” said Reidel. “And, their support of Claire hasn’t waned almost a month into school.”

After the meeting, Pevonak, Thran, and Foster voluntarily gave up their Saturday to go to Seattle Children’s Hospital and be trained as Parent Designated Alternatives to officially care for Claire and other students with Type I Diabetes.

Reidel commented, “The fact that these women joyfully gave of their time and themselves so they could care for my child is the epitome of community and love in action.”

Reidel went on to say that she feels supported by every staff member she has worked with at Columbia. Each person has gone above and beyond what is to be expected in caring for the whole child. Principal Batten was attentive and kind when setting up a meeting for her daughter, and school nurse Donahue contacted her quickly to help guide her in creating a health plan for Claire.

“I will continually shout their praises as they actively support Claire academically and personally,” said Reidel.

Reidel’s older daughter, Hannah, a tenth grader at Bellingham High, also has Type I Diabetes. When she was at Columbia Elementary six years ago, Hannah’s nurse was Tobi Melton, who is also her current nurse in high school.

“Tobi made everything about sending a kid with a life-changing medical condition to school infinitely less scary,” said Reidel. “She set goals for Hannah in terms of diabetes management, praised Hannah’s efforts to independently manage herself, and celebrated the successes. Our oldest is doing incredibly well in caring for herself, in large part due to those who stood alongside her as she lived into her diagnosis. So, as you can see, we as a family have abundantly reaped the blessings of having caring and committed staff support our children.”

Comments (5)

  1. Joyce Moseley-Sweeney

    2 years ago

    These dedicated staff members make me proud to be working at Columbia Elementary School!

  2. Eileen Byrne

    2 years ago

    Great place all our kids can call home. Well done!

  3. Nicole Brown

    2 years ago

    So grateful for all the Columbia staff, one example of how much the care about all who walk through the doors. Grateful to be a part of this school community!

  4. Melissa Miner

    2 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this touching story about our Columbia teachers and staff! Such a wonderful, supportive community that we are lucky to be a part of.

  5. Ami Strain

    2 years ago

    Columbia has been an amazing school to all three of my children. I feel so fortunate to be a part of this community and will always be grateful to the wonderful staff of Columbia for helping me to raise up my children! They are truly the best!!

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