After thirty years in nursing - sixteen with the Westport Public Schools - Stephanie Pappas joined Greens Farms Academy last spring ahead of Kathleen Raby’s retirement. She had arguably the biggest shoes to fill but has done an incredible job getting to know our community and is already beloved. Dragon Digest sat down with her to learn more about our new school nurse.
When did you start at GFA and what is your background?
I've been a nurse for over 30 years. I used to work in hospitals. I worked in Boston for a number of years and then we moved to Washington DC and I worked at the Children's Hospital there.Then we were in Texas and it was just too far away. When we came back to the Northeast, I had kids. I had never done school nursing and just applied for a job on a whim. I gave it a shot and this is my 17th year.
When I was in school and I was doing my clinicals I never would have said, ’Yes, I'm gonna be a school nurse.’ It was never on my radar. I'm so happy that it's something that I kind of fell upon and the role has expanded since I first started.
The perception is you just kind of sit here all day and do band-aids, but it's so much more than that. There's a lot of kids who have complex illnesses that you have to help take care of; there's a lot of social-emotional stuff that's going on. Especially now after Covid, there'seven more I'm still learning about.
What is new for you about this role at GFA?
This role gave me the chance to work with students in grades PreK-12 and not just elementary school which was an incredible new challenge. I still get to work with my favorite group of little peoplea nd I'm learning a lot about the middle school and high school. It's just a whole different world. I love to learn about how I can help the kids and make their days better. Sometimes it's just a hello and a smiling face that makes the day go a whole lot better, you know? So far, I love it,I love all the people here at GFA.
I've always said there's no way I could ever fill Kathleen Raby’s shoes. I mean, she was here for 45 years. One day I was fortunate enough to actually fill in for her and I said, oh my goodness, I would always want to work here if Kathleen ever left. Then, when she said she was leaving, I said, oh my goodness, how could I ever go into her job?
I mean, how do you do that? How do you follow somebody who's been here for 45 years? Then I realized I should just do things my own way. Her legacy will always be here. So far I'm happy and I hope everybody else is too.
What has surprised you most about Green Farms Academy?
It has surprised me how quickly people made me feel welcome. I think it's a true testament to the whole staff here. Even though I am the new kid on the block and I am filling someone's shoes who's been here for a long time, nobody here has treated me like that. Everybody has been so welcoming. I feel like I've been here and I've been one of the team for a while. There are different surprises every day but I feel like everyone here has helped me navigate them.
What is your favorite GFA lunch?
Vincent and I have a conversation every day about lunches and the best part about them is that I do not have to make them. So it's absolutely wonderful.
What is your favorite spot on campus?
I just love looking out this window in my office. I wish the window was actually bigger because I like looking out onto the front lawn and getting the view of the ocean and the beautiful grounds. When I get a chance, I always just stand up and just take a peek out the window.
What is something interesting that the readers of Dragon Digest should know about you?
I'm originally from Boston, so I love the Boston area. I go home every chance that I can. My whole family is still there. I'm a true Bostonian at heart and I root for all the Boston sports teams, which does not go over well with some people. I'm a die-hard Red Sox fan, a Bruins fan, and Patriots fan – even if they're losing.