Making It All Better

A selfless school nurse who’s a second mom to a thousand kids

Nancy Garretto once dreamed of having 12 children. Instead, she says, she ended up with nearly 1,000, including her own two kids and the students at the combined campus of Blind Brook High School and Blind Brook Middle School in Rye Brook, where she has served as school nurse for 30 years.

“I knew very early on that I wanted to be a pediatric nurse,” says the Harrison native, now a grandmother of four, who started her career at Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla. “When I got the call about an opportunity at Blind Brook, I decided it was the perfect job for me.”

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Garretto sees 70 to 80 students a day, starting as early as 7:20 am. “Children will come by if something was bothering them overnight,” she says. “Sometimes, they’ll check something out with me before their parent calls the doctor.” As the day continues, her office is constantly busy with students who have medical needs, are requesting working papers or other documents, or simply want a sympathetic ear. 

“Adolescence is a time when there’s a lot going on, physically and emotionally,” she says. “Kids often find me when something is happening outside of the classroom. We’ll talk about their accomplishments or college or whatever is on their minds. I try to support them in any way I can.”

Blind Brook’s principal, Patricia Lambert,
says Garretto’s devotion to the students is unparalleled. “I have worked in nine districts in my 30-plus-year career in education, and Nancy is in a category all her own,” she says. “Nancy puts everyone ahead of herself. She never takes lunch, never takes a day off and stays late for kids with medical needs when high-stakes testing lasts long beyond the school day. She has a Zen-like quality, even in emergency situations.” Lambert says she’s never seen Garretto frustrated or angry. “She’s a second mother to everyone—students and staff!”

Garretto says one of her greatest rewards came not too long ago, when a graduating student wrote her a letter stating that  Garretto had inspired her to become a nurse, too.

“I feel so fortunate to have received that letter,” Garretto says. “It told me that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.”

Nancy Garretto, Blind Brook High School

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