All this week, The Bear Press will be unveiling exclusive interviews with all of this year’s retiring teachers. In a way, we consider these teachers The Staff Class of 2015! We’ll have the details about what they’ll miss, what they’ll remember, and what they’ll be doing after retirement. Our next interview is with Hammond’s nurse Christine McGonigal!
By Hameling Murillo-Osario and Jena Borlik
Hammond’s nurse, Ms. McGonigal, is retiring from her nursing career. Ms. McGonigal has had many wonderful and memorable moments here at Hammond High School. Ms. McGonigal has been working in the Howard County nursing field for 14 years, spending three years at Hammond.
Ms. McGonigal started by describing the best of these memorable moments. “There are multiple ones, but the most memorable one is getting to really know the students and getting to support them.”
She has worked with many different schools in HCPSS. Laurel Woods Elementary, Bollman Bridge Elementary, Patuxent Valley Middle, Hammond Middle, Hammond Elementary, and Hammond High are just a few of these, as well as summer school nursing in HCPSS. During her time in our school system, she has had some life-changing moments, as well as obstacles to overcome. Ms. McGonigal explained that “working at Hammond made me realize so many differences in students. Every student needs to be treated equally and respected, no matter their sexuality or religion.”
Ms. McGonigal graduated from nursing school in 1974, and started working at the Lutheran Hospital in Baltimore as her first medical-related job. She later worked as a registered nurse at Howard County General Hospital in 1978, spending evenings wherever she was placed by the hospital staff.
Ms. McGonigal remembered her experience at Howard County General. “I worked on every floor. It was PRN (pro re nat a, meaning “when necessary”), so I worked whenever they needed me to work.”
After working as a PRN, Ms. McGonigal worked postpartum (after birth) with newborn babies. Then, she left and came to Laurel Woods Elementary in 1991 after being requested to help a diabetic student at the school. This was just the beginning of her career with the school system. In the year 1992, Howard County started the “Cluster Model” project.
Under the “Cluster Model,” nurses would be assigned to work at multiple schools, servicing the needs of students across a general area of Howard County. “I was asked to be a cluster nurse,” explained Ms. McGonigal, “so I left Laurel Woods. Then I had to look over many schools. This is my third year being at Hammond High School without working at other schools.” Ms. McGonigal has certainly made an impression on the students of Hammond as a caretaker that is a safe place to go for help, whether it’s medically or non-medically based.
When asked about her parting words to Hammond, Ms. McGonigal had just one hope for the future nurse of Hammond. “I hope the next person that comes, cares as much as I do and takes good care of [students] and is patient. I know they are in good hands because Ms. Young [Hammond’s health assistant] is here.” All of us at The Bear Press and Hammond wish Ms. McGonigal luck in her next journey and hope that she will always remember her time at Hammond.
If you have memories of a teacher who will be retiring next year, make sure to tag us on Twitter (@hhsbearpress) with the hashtag #HaHSTeachers! We’ll have interviews with more retirees, including Ms. Mutolo, Ms. Mooney, and Ms. Harryman, soon in our Staff Class of 2015 series!