Kari Cook, RN BSN was recently recognized as ‘School Nurse of the Year.’ She is a school nurse at Southeast High School and Hawthorne Elementary where she enjoys working with both age groups.

In the OKCPS district, nurses play an important part in our schools. With 33 school nurses on staff, there is one nurse that stands out from all the rest and her name is Kari Cook. She was chosen as the School Nurse of the Year, 2018. Congratulations Kari!
Kari Cook, RN BSN works as a school nurse for Oklahoma City Public Schools. She is responsible for two schools; Southeast high school, 3 days a week and Hawthorne Elementary for 2 days.
Born in Tulsa, OK, Kari moved to Denver for a few years but then came back to Oklahoma City when she was 9 years old. “Oklahoma is definitely my home,” Kari said.
Kari says that she started from the bottom and worked her way up. “I became a Certified Nurse’s Assistant in 2003, received my LPN license from Francis Tuttle in 2005 and graduated from OCCC with an Associate’s Degree in Nursing in 2007. OKCPS hired me on the condition that I would obtain my Bachelor’s Degree within 10 years. It was 2009 when I became a school nurse and I immediately loved it! I really felt a need to be at the schools in the OKC district. I needed the children, and they needed me. After my first year of being a school nurse, I knew that I found my niche. I started UCO the next year and graduated with Bachelors in Nursing in 2013.”
Asking Kari how she felt about receiving the honor of School Nurse of the Year, she replied, “I was totally surprised to be chosen among a great group of nurses. Each one is loving and caring and wants to love and support our kids. I believe we work well together and we are excellent resources for each other. It was truly an honor being recognized! We have some rock star nurses that I have the privilege to work with. For me to be chosen by my peers is such a huge acknowledgment. All of my fellow school nurses are all wonderful and deserve to be recognized as well for their hard work and dedication to our students.”
What is your favorite thing about being a nurse? I ask. “My favorite thing about being a nurse would be the feeling I get when I am helping others. I knew early on that I wanted to be a teacher or a nurse. I kind of get to do both,” she said with a smile. “Loving my job is an understatement and I really don’t consider it a job anymore. I get to see these kids come from nothing and become successful members of our community. As a community health nurse, I love seeing my students thriving and improving.”
Kari, what is your biggest asset as a school nurse? “I would say that my biggest asset at the schools would be the staff. I work for a tremendous district full of people that are here for the kids. We all want them to learn so we can help each other achieve that goal. Teamwork makes the dream work!”
How would you describe yourself in 3 words? I ask Kari. “I try to keep myself balanced; seeing both sides of the situation. I am a mother to my children, giving the nurse characteristics part in me that wants to take care of people and take care of others. Life is short and I want to have fun while I’m here. I love to laugh and have a good time with friends and family. That reminds me of my favorite quote, she says. Enjoy life; this is not a dress rehearsal.”
A typical day for Kari keeps her busy. “I’m not as busy at my high school like I am at my elementary. At the high school, I do more education and counseling for my students. They are usually old enough to take care of their basic needs but need more guidance. The high school students take on the ‘adult-role.” At my elementary, it’s boo-boos and ice packs all around. I also have to make sure all my students are up to date on their immunizations. We do health screenings to check student’s vision and hearing. These are the students that need some nurturing. I love both of my schools and enjoy having two age groups; I have the best of both worlds.”