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Parks & Rec News

MAIN OFFICE PHONE:  (540) 375-3057|HOURS:  M-F 8am-5pm
MAIN OFFICE LOCATION:  620 Florida Street, Salem, VA 24153

Published on Tuesday, November 23, 2021

School Division Honors Salem's School Nurses

Meet the 2021 Salem City School Support Staff Employeees of the Year


Alice, “Sissy,” Vandevander grew up in the Roanoke Valley. She graduated from William Fleming High School and then went to nursing school at Roanoke Memorial Hospital. She pursued her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Education at Virginia Tech. Sissy has practiced nursing for 40 years. In her time as a nurse, her favorite area practice was neurotrauma. Sissy is married to Jeff and they have three grown children: all Salem High School graduates. They have three grandchildren. Sissy joined the Salem High School staff in 2015.

Mr. Scott Habeeb, Principal, writes, “Sissy is the ultimate school nurse. Not only is she an excellent medical care provider, but she carries herself with grace, smiles through the storms, and cares for colleagues and kids alike. No matter how bumpy the waters, our ship is in kind and competent hands with Nurse V at the helm.” Ms. Teresa Barker, Main Office Secretary adds, “From day one, Sissy has arrived at work with a smile, a positive attitude, a caring heart, and a strong work ethic. While this is no small feat in normal times, her ability to maintain this disposition the last couple of months is praiseworthy.”



When we say that students at Andrew Lewis Middle School receive world-class healthcare each day, we aren’t joking. Nurse Sandra has literally worked all over the world! Born and raised in a traditional Irish family, Nurse Sandra was one of 6 children growing up on a horse/cattle farm in rural Ireland. She attended nursing school in Dublin, Ireland and immediately began work in cardiac surgery, neurology, and hospice care.

After several years in healthcare, Nurse Sandra ventured out from Ireland and worked in Germany and England before finally settling down in the Big Apple and working as a private nurse. She eventually moved to Daytona Beach where she was a charge nurse of the cardiac/telemetry unit. She even worked at the Daytona Speedway on race days! In 2004, Nurse Sandra arrived in Virginia where she served as a stay-at-home mom for several years. She volunteered her time in a variety of ways and even owned and operated a brewery. Sandra and her daughters Maeve (16) and Fionna (13) arrived in Salem in 2017 because of the community feeling and excellent school system.

Nurse Sandra began her career with Salem City Schools in August of 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. She not only had the difficult task of working in a school during unknown times, but she also had to replace our beloved Nurse Haymaker. “From day one, Sandra embraced the family motto of ALMS and became an integral part of our team and greater ALMS community,” says Assistant Principal Matt Coe. “Nurse Sandra has been nothing short of amazing in her short tenure at ALMS. She immediately rolled her sleeves up and got to work taking care of students, staff, and families. She’s not afraid of a challenge or hard work. She shows up each day with a smile on her face and flat out gets it done,” says Jamie Garst.

Sandra is married to her husband Michael, a veteran, and has two-step children as well. She has two certified therapy dogs, Achilles and Murphy, who enjoy visiting a variety of facilities around the area (including ALMS). While she still maintains close ties with her family in Ireland, she enjoys hiking and reading in her spare time.



East Salem Elementary is proud to announce our school nurse, Angela Schuyler-Meadows, as the Support Staff of the Year. Mrs. Meadows is a graduate of UNCC and Bluefield State University. Prior to beginning a career in nursing, her love of children led her to work in the daycare field, eventually becoming the director of a special needs daycare in Charlotte, North Carolina. Mrs. Meadows has worked as a registered nurse for over 20 years. She has worked in many areas of nursing, including medical/surgical, surgical intensive care, operating rooms and now as a school nurse. Mrs. Meadows wears many hats for East Salem. In addition to taking care of students throughout the day, she can be found lending a hand with the social committee, our clothes closet, and even daily dismissal. She is truly a team player that steps up to fill manyroles in the building.

In the words of Mrs. Routt, “Mrs. Meadows has always worked tirelessly, but the pandemic has brought with it immense responsibility, long hours, and an entire new complexity to her job. Her partnership and commitment to the health and safety of East Salem has been invaluable to me.”

Mrs. Meadows and her husband, Les, are the proud parents of three children: Austin, Alyssa and Ashton. Outside of school, her hobbies include baking, crafting, shopping, camping and cheering on the sidelines of whatever sport her children may be playing. East Salem is thrilled for Mrs. Meadows to receive this well-deserved recognition.



The G.W. Carver community wishes to recognize our nurse, Denise Dowell, as support staff member of the year. Nurse Dowell has always taken amazing care of our students and families. During the pandemic she has worked countless hours communicating and educating our families and staff. She has worked with our staff to create systems that help us provide a consistent message to families, keep up with attendance, and contact tracing; all while putting the students first. Nurse Dowell understands the stress that the pandemic has put on families. She takes the time with every family to provide support and guidance, as well as a listening ear when they are dealing with a sick child or family member. We appreciate her dedication and willingness to serve so selflessly.

Denise Dowell has worked in the field of nursing for 34 years. She has served in hospitals, clinics, and schools. Nurse Dowell has worked as a school nurse for over 25 years, with almost 20 of those in Salem City Schools. Denise Dowell is a wife and mother of two grown children: successful Salem graduates. She is the grandmother of five beautiful grandchildren. She is a dedicated member of Shiloh Baptist Church. She volunteers through the church and on the board of a nonprofit organization supporting victims of domestic violence. At G.W. Carver Elementary we love and admire, and are so glad for this chance to recognize and honor, Denise Dowell.



South Salem Elementary is proud to recognize Angela Bryant and Chelsea Blankenship as Support Staff of the Year. Nurse Angie Bryant has been at South Salem as our school nurse for eleven years, serving both the students and staff at South. Nurse Angie continues to be a sounding board for both nursing and personal issues for both students and staff. During these challenging times, Angie runs the health clinic confidently, respectfully, and professionally. Whether it is a student, employee or parent that enters her office, each feels her love and concern, and always leaves with an encouraging word.

Angie Bryant, a Salem native, graduated from Salem High School in 1983. Mrs. Bryant attended Liberty University for two years before graduating from Radford University’s School of Nursing in 1988. Nurse Angie and her husband Scott are the proud parents of two successful daughters.

Band-Aids, bags of ice, temperature checks, a smile or hug; she’s always there for us! We are pleased to announce Nurse Angie Bryant as our 2021-2022 South Salem Support Employee of the Year!



Nurse Chelsea Blankenship currently serves as our two day a week nurse, but is not new to South. Nurse Blankenship helped provide support to our school community last school year as the burden of COVID was heavy. This school year has been a true challenge, creating great obstacles to the learning environment of a school. We are fortunate to have Nurse Blankenship’s medical expertise to provide for our students and staff. Nurse Blankenship is a caring, supportive nurse who helps foster independence in our students.

Chelsea, a Salem native, moved to Kansas in high school and graduated from Lawrence High School in Lawrence, Kansas. She then returned to the Roanoke Valley where she attended and graduated from Radford University in 2013 with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Chelsea is married and is the proud mother of two darling girls. When not at South, Chelsea works at Carilion Memorial Hospital, serving our greater Roanoke community. We are proud to announce Nurse Chelsea Blankenship as our 2021-2022 South Salem Support Employee of the Year!



West Salem Elementary School is proud to recognize West Salem Nurse, Lindsey Millard as their Support Staff of the Year. Ms. Millard graduated in 2005 from Radford University with a BSN in Nursing. She had the privilege of being a NICU Nurse for 6 years. When Mrs. Millard started growing her family, she became a Substitute School Nurse with Salem City Schools. Nurse Millard served as the School Nurse at Salem High School for three years before transitioning to the position at West Salem. This is her 5th year at West Salem Elementary School.

She has been married for 16 years to her high school sweetheart and they have three children that attend SHS, ALMS and South Salem schools. Nurse Millard is truly loved by the West Salem community and she puts her heart and soul into caring for the West Salem Cardinal students, faculty, and staff each day.



Central Office and Salem City Schools is proud to recognize Anna Haymaker as the Support Staff of the Year. Anna serves as the Nurse Coordinator for Salem City Schools and fills in as needed at the schools when another nurse is out. Anna graduated from Virginia Western Nursing School and has been a school nurse for 14 years. She is married to William Haymaker, and they raised two daughters - Makenzie & Adriana who are both Salem graduates. Ms. Haymaker and her husband enjoy one granddaughter - Elliana.

A colleague of Anna’s writes, “Anna Haymaker is an exceptional nurse, and she has played a vital role in supporting the health of students in Salem City Schools. She is a leader, has an extraordinary work ethic and is an advocate for her students and colleagues. We are blessed to have her in the role of Nurse Coordinator. She has truly made a difference in our lives and in the lives of the students and faculty with whom she works.”

Dr. Jennings described Nurse Anna as a "Lifesaver in every sense of the word. She is always there when you need her. Salem City Schools is a safer, better place because of Nurse Anna."


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