School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse – Meet Sheila Caldwell, School Nurse & Change Agent

This special series of The Relentless School Nurse blog has been written by our Rutgers-Camden School Nurse Certificate students as part of a multi-pronged social media assignment. The final segment of this 3-part assignment is a blog post based on an interview that the students did with school nurses across the country. This submission is from Victoria Kinderman, a stellar student who was linked to Sheila Caldwell, a school nurse with a national presence, located in our home state of New Jersey. Victoria did an outstanding job highlighting an important initiative that Sheila is most proud to share.  This was a true collaborative effort between Victoria and Sheila. 

 (Bowles, Batchellor, Zimmerman 2018)

Sheila Caldwell is a School Nurse and change agent in school nursing, who works in a New Jersey School.  Along with many schools in New Jersey, Sheila’s school district had started the move toward equity and social emotional learning a few years ago and Sheila was right there in that movement.  Equity for all students, meaning that every student has the support they need to be successful, given the social determinants of health and environment that they are dealt.  Sheila realized the importance of addressing the social-emotional needs that every school nurse sees in the health office exhibited by psychosomatic symptoms…Symptoms that are brought on by an array of factors in the home, in the community, and yes, in the school.  These symptoms are real for the children and until these issues are addressed, children cannot learn.

Montclair State University Center for Autism and Early Childhood Mental Health (CAECMH) (n.d.), developed the Socio-Emotional Formative Initiative, also known as SEFI.  This program was developed to promote the social and emotional well-being of all infants, toddlers, and young children.  This professional development program uses promotion, prevention, and intervention to learn how to better care for children.  SEFI is funded by the State of New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Family Development in collaboration with the Grow NJ Kids Program.  SEFI focuses on the importance of understanding and promoting the social, emotional, and mental health and well-being of infants, toddlers, and young children.  SEFI originated after Hurricane Sandy to help families affected by the storm.  Overtime, it was available to the whole state because it was found to be a great program to help with mental health needs. 

Sheila sought out and received a grant from the New Jersey Collaborating Center for Nursing.  Sheila’s vision for the grant was to basically address parent engagement while pulling in some community partners to help in efforts to address the social-emotional needs of children and families.  Sheila held some parent engagement programs at community events.  Then, Sheila pitched her idea to Corinne Catalano, MA, IMH-E-IV of the CAECMH as well as to the mayors of her regional district. An idea that was innovative and unique in its approach for parent/family engagement.

Data was collected from families to ensure they had input for the project.  Surveys were provided at community events, through email, and paper surveys were provided in order to collect data.  The project was offered online and in person, which incorporated different forms of engagement.  In-person events were offered at different times of the day in order to accommodate parents with different needs to ensure they had the opportunity to participate as well.

There was a Kick Off event to increase participation and awareness for the parental engagement survey.  Giveaways and food were provided. Thereafter, for a series of six weeks parents were provided a 20 minute pre-recorded webinar sessions that allowed for Q&A and with the opportunity learn about school and community resources available to address some of the concerns.  In addition, Sheila partnered with the library to have earbuds available free of charge for use of a computer at the library for increased participation of those without one in the home.  The sessions could be accessed 24/7 by parents, students and staff for the duration of the six weeks and a culminating event followed with discussions about the program, gained knowledge, interaction and resources by the families.  Here is the list of the topics that were a part of the project:

  • What is stress? A little neuroscience and a lot of self-reflection
  • Busy environments, scratchy socks, sugar or lack of sleep: What stresses you & what stresses your child?
  • Stress begets stress and calm begets calm: What is your role in your child’s stress & your child’s calm?
  • Attention and motivation: What might be getting in the way?
  • Navigating the rough waters of social interactions: How can you help?
  • Pulling it all together.

Sheila shared this unique program approach to reach parents where they are with other school nurses and educational colleagues and since that time she has been informed by Ms. Catalano many other districts loved the concept and have contracted with CAECMH to incorporate the project into their school districts.  Sheila is an innovative school nurse, who is always working to improve and engage her school community and beyond. 


Bowles, John & Adams, Jeffrey & Batcheller, Joyce & Zimmermann, Deb & Pappas, Sharon. (2018). The Role of the Nurse Leader in Advancing the Quadruple Aim. Nurse Leader. 16. 244-248. 10.1016/j.mnl.2018.05.011.

Montclair State University Center for Autism and Early Childhood Mental Health. (n.d.). Socio-Emotional Formation Initiative (SEFI). Retrieved from

Bio: Sheila Caldwell, BSN, RN, CSN-NJ has over 30 years of hospital-based experience, ranging from critical care to case management.  She became a Certified School Nurse in the state of New Jersey in 2005.  Sheila has worked in a few urban and charter schools and currently works in a public school serving students grades preschool through 3rd.  Sheila is a member of Monmouth County School Nurses Association, the National Association of School Nurses, the New Jersey School Nurse Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics NJ Chapter, and serves on many committees, including the NJSSNA By-Laws Committee, the New Jersey Preschool Nurses Committee, and the NJ Action Coalition.  Sheila has been a ‘go-to’ school nurse in NJ, especially via the NJCU Listserv, at a time when many nurses were not using social media, allowing her to gain respect as a pioneer on new media platforms. Sheila has been a monitor for NASN’s, All Members and School Nurse Open Forum Listserv for 13 years, giving her the ability to communicate with School Nurses all over the United States and the world.  Sheila is also a Johnson and Johnson School Health Fellow.  Sheila is a #SchoolNurseWhoTweets, who uses her voice to post insightful and informative resources.


Bio: Victoria E. Kinderman, BSN, RN has been a professional nurse for three years. She received her Nursing Diploma from St. Francis Medical Center, AS from Mercer County Community College, and BSN from Walden University. She is currently working towards her New Jersey School Nurse Certification at Rutgers University-Camden with an expected completion of December 2019. She now works as a field nurse for Star Pediatric Home Care Agency. Prior to becoming a nurse, Victoria worked as a Float Pool Clinical Care Technician for Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.  She is a member of the Burlington County School Nurse Association, New Jersey School Nurse Association and the National Association of School Nurses. She is also a Substitute School Nurse in Bordentown, NJ and Mount Holly, NJ. 


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