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Nurse recognized for longevity, passion

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Bandera Middle School School Nurse Toni Serene stopped to think about how many times she has seen a student in her school clinic.

''About 100,000,'' she said nonchalantly to a Bulletin reporter.

Every time a student comes in for treatment, a nurse referral form has to be filled out, she explained.

''I order about 4,000 nurse referral forms each year, and over 25 years, that adds up to my estimate,'' nurse Serene said.

She is one of four BISD school nurses, one at each of the four campuses.

Nurse Serene usually sees up to 30 students a day and noted that she expected the number to grow as the winter moved forward this year.

In the past, daily evaluations grew to as many as 65 students, Serene said.

As the only nurse at BMS, she has treated thousands of sixth, seventh and eighth graders, some with more serious injuries than just scrapes and bruises.

''I never know if I will only be cleaning wounds from playground injuries all day or if I will have to call for an ambulance,'' Serene said. ''The school nurse does not know what will occur in a given day and must be prepared for anything.''

''We have student aides who help with clinic chores and duties. A number of them have gone on to become RNs (registered nurses), EMTs (emergency medical technicians), and there has been at least one physician's assistant. I am very proud of them,'' she said.

Serene is also proud that she has treated three generations of BMS students over the years.

At a school board meeting last September, Serene was recognized for 50 years as an RN and for her 25 years with the district.

Bandera Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Jerry Hollingsworth praised the longtime district employee.

''Nurse Serene is an icon in our Bandera ISD community. She is a genuine exemplar of our district's core value that states 'We value passionate people of integrity.'Nurse Serene is passionate about her work in medicine, and she does her work with love and care for students and staff. She is professional, knowledgeable, kind, sincere, and committed to Bandera. I am honored and blessed to have her on our team,'' the superintendent said.

She and husband Fred Serene moved back to the San Antonio area from Hawaii when he retired from the Army in August 1994.

The couple moved to the Bandera-Pipe Creek area, and Toni Serene joined BISD in the 1995-96 school year.

''I played pretend nurse at age 2 when I received my first toy nurse's kit. I can't remember a time when I didn't want to be a nurse,'' Serene said, adding she got her Texas RN license in 1969.

Nurse Serene, who said she has only missed three days work in 25 years, summed up her dedication this way:

''I love the children, the teachers and the staff. They are my 'work family'.''