Texas school nursing is rich with a mighty past. This Blog gave us cause to talk with many outstanding school nurse leaders who built our foundation. We are grateful for our rich legacy of visionary and tenacious leaders.
Before 1968, there was no professional school nurse organization in Texas. However, Texas’ NEA affiliate, TSTA, welcomed school nurses into their designated school health membership section. When NEA created the Department of School Nurses in 1968, Vera LeBlanc, a Texas school nurse and active TSTA member, served on the first Board of Directors (1970-71).
In 1973, Texas school nurse leaders saw the need for school nurse specific education. They began meeting to organize and plan a statewide school nurse conference. The University of Texas Medical Branch supported the efforts and a highly successful conference was held in Galveston. This visionary group of nurses proved to not only be excellent conference planners, they were skilled organizational architects. Texas Association of School Nurses (TASN) and the Texas School Nurse Administrators Association (TSNAA) were products of their efforts. From 1973 - 2002 TASN enjoyed a rapid growth in membership with a focus on providing education and networking opportunity.
In 2002, TASN was targeted from a contracted event planner who embezzled conference funds and depleted the operating account. This deplorable act against TASN was not about to stop Texas School Nurses, who have always been resilient with a Rosie the Riveter “We Can Do It” attitude.
In the spring 2003, a group of incredible school nurse leaders resolved to build another professional organization for school nurses. Determined to have a school nurse conference, all of these leaders paid their own expenses to conference planning and other meetings, and a number of the leaders personally financed the 2003 conference. NASN was consulted for organizational strategies and assistance to build the stronger and more solvent organization that is now known as Texas School Nurses Organization (TSNO). Since then, TSNO members have benefited immensely from a unified NASN membership.
TSNO supports the health of Texas school children through high quality professional development offered at annual conferences, evidence-based resources on our state website, an electronic newsletter that models NASN’s 21st Century School Nursing Framework TM, through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, partnership development, and legislative action. TSNO has more than 2300 members whose professional needs guide the resources developed, and how those resources are provided.
TSNO now practices a more proactive approach to advocacy; one that seeks to support improved student health initiatives. TSNO’s paid political consultant scans the political arena for pending legislation that could impact student health outcomes, helps TSNO craft legislation, and seeks legislators to champion school nursing initiatives. Members continue to embrace professional advocacy roles.
TSNO is proud of the increased visibility, value, voice and influence as evidenced by collaborative conversations across the state. Texas School Nurses supporting safety, student health and academic success are a force for the future!
Special thanks to Linda Howard, TSNO's Membership Coordinator, for her tireless effort in giving voice to our rich Texas school nursing history.