There are a great many of special people who make an impact on one's school community. There is one special person, though, who REALLY goes above and beyond in terms of service in a school, and that person is a school nurse!
This week's Life in the Spotlight is none other than Valparaiso High School's nurse, Mary Sikorski. Born and raised in Lake County, Indiana, Sikorski came east to Porter County in 1985 where she has resided since. With as great of a nurse as she is now to all of VHS's ailing students, one may be surprised to learn that she didn't realize she wanted to study nursing until the second semester of her senior year in high school at Andrean.
"I always ranked high in 'service' positions when we took career tests in school, and I started feeling as if I could be helpful to people and hopefully understand how they were feeling," Sikorski said.
Sikorski then went to work in a medical records department of a hospital for one year, then entered the Licensed Practical Nurse program at Purdue University Calumet. After graduating, she began working in a hospital for four months before heading right back into the classroom for a rigorous Registered Nurse program at Indiana University Northwest.
"I received so much clinical experience in the LPN program that helped me succeed in the RN program," Sikorski explained, "I've gotten to work in hospitals in surgery, surgery recovery, and labor and delivery, and then outside of hospitals administering vaccinations and now as a school nurse. I even worked as a camp nurse in Wisconsin one summer!"
With all of this experience, VHS was incredibly lucky to bring Sikorski on staff back in 2001. What began as a position as a part-time substitute nurse soon became a 14-year career with the school, and they could not have been more blessed to have her.
"The nurses' office is much busier than I ever could have imagined," Sikorski explained, "We make sure to not be just a 'Band-Aid and cough drop' office too. Our goal is to help students and staff when they are ill or injured and refer them for further evaluation when needed."
Having been at VHS for so long, Sikorski shared that one of the biggest highlights for her has been the camaraderie of both the VHS staff and the nursing staff.
"It's a huge benefit to be able to collaborate with other nurses and be comfortable sharing information to help each other out," Sikorski said.
Outside of the nurses' office, one of Sikorski's favorite things about our community is our proximity to the lakefront and the dunes, and she enjoys visiting there whenever she can. She also feels very lucky to have a great group of close friends from high school that she sees regularly and enjoys spending time with. In our own community, Sikorski has spent time in the past serving on the board at Montessori School, as well as on several committees through Trinity Lutheran Church and Christ Lutheran Church.
Having a daughter who was an active swim club participant and high school swimmer for VHS (and who recently completed her Master's at IU Bloomington), Sikorski also was active for an entire six years with the Valpo Swim Club!
It goes without saying that Mary Sikorski has made an amazing, lasting impact on both Valparaiso High School and the community of Valparaiso as a whole. After over 40 years of dedication to the field of nursing, Sikorski looks forward to sitting back and relaxing a bit when she retires this June, but her smiling face is sure to be dearly missed in the school office! Thank you for your dedication and passion, Mary!