Voice of calm: Allen East nurse up for national honor

·2 min read

Sep. 14—HARROD — A school nurse's efforts to keep school open amid the coronavirus pandemic has earned him a nomination for LifeChanger of the year, a national award for K-12 educators, school nurses and others who promote learning.

David Pryer, nurse for Allen East schools, was nominated for his work ensuring that students could attend in-person classes, sporting events, prom and graduation — activities which many of their peers across the U.S. missed out on due to pandemic restrictions.

"He pulled us through the last year," said Mel Rentschler, superintendent of Allen East schools, who nominated Pryer. "It was such a bad situation with COVID, and his calmness, his common-sense approach helped pull us through having school five days a week all year last year.

"If it wasn't for David, we couldn't have pulled that off."

The National Life Group Foundation recognizes educators and other K-12 employees who "exemplify excellence, positive influence and leadership," awarding up to $10,000 to finalists and their school districts.

This year, the group is dedicating an award to school nurses who ensured students could attend school safely during the peak of the pandemic.

Pryer "had the foresight to realize early in the pandemic that kids would be hurt more being isolated at home, as they would lose the social and emotional interactions with their peers," Rentschler wrote on his nomination form.

The work also benefited special education students and those in need of in-person counseling sessions, Rentschler wrote.

The last 18 months have been the most challenging of Pryer's career, often requiring his team to quickly shift focus to slow the spread of the virus and adapt to changing expectations, he said.

"Kids and adults benefit from being together socially, emotionally," Pryer said. "It does benefit us that we're all here. ... We got through last year, so we can get through just about anything."

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