Kerry Leighty RN, BSN, School Nurse for Rapid City Area Schools
Being a parent of a child with high-risk health needs can be scary – especially when you leave them to go on their own to be “normal” kids at school with their friends. But, having someone you can count on like Nurse Kerry – a school nurse for Rapid City Area Schools at Corral Drive Elementary and Southwest Middle School – can be the reassurance you depend on.
Christy Cline’s son, Camden, has Type 1 Diabetes, which can be affected by food, stress, and simple activities. But with Nurse Kerry close by, monitoring his blood sugars throughout the day, the Clines can rest assured their son is safe.
“The care and the love she has for our son makes him feel ‘normal’. She goes into the classroom to make sure he isn’t missing out on class time, and makes life and death decisions for him every day,” said Christy. “Nurse Kerry is truly exceptional at her job and gives us the peace of mind to be able to live our daily lives every single day.”
Kerry has been a nurse for 20 years, beginning her career in Rapid City in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Pediatric Unit. Since then, Kerry has worked as a travel nurse, traveling to Arizona, Oregon, Colorado, and Connecticut, as well as working in Chicago while her husband Kirby completed schooling to become a Physician Assistant. But, no matter where her journey has taken her, Kerry has kept kids close to her heart.
“Kids are so much fun,” said Kerry with a smile. “It’s incredibly rewarding to help a child heal from an illness or injury, to watch them go from hospitalization, to recovery, and back to home.”
As a school nurse, Kerry’s day-to-day schedule involves managing nearly 1,200 children’s injuries, emergencies, and helping children be successful students. She coordinates and manages the care of diabetic students and those with complex health needs, and always makes an effort to help them feel at home.
“I love the connections that I get to make with my students,” said Kerry, “and I really work to know each child and their families on an individual level.”
With a busy workload and a passion for helping others be their best selves, Nurse Kerry has found her calling in life and is the resource many parents have come to rely on.
“I have the coolest job and I work with amazing teams in both of my schools,” said Kerry. “I get to spend my day surrounded by the purest joy — children!”