Betty Miller Named Alaska School Nurse of the Year


When students come to see Elizabeth "Nurse Betty" Miller, it may just be for a Band-Aid or a quiet place to lie down, but whether they realize it or not, they get so much more - a health educator, counselor and nurse with a certification list about as long as her 35-year career in nursing.

It's not just students and staff at the schools she serves who appreciate her work. The state of Alaska has a healthy respect for Miller, as well. She has been named the Alaska School Nurse of the Year, awarded by the Alaska School Nurse Association. Miller, known to students and staff as "Nurse Betty," has served students from preschool to high school all across the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, from Hope to village schools on the southern peninsula, and Seward schools to the central peninsula. She currently provides services to Skyview High School and River City Academy.

"I feel honored and humbled by this award," she said.

Miller has been a nurse for 35 years, including office, hospital and home-health nursing positions, but said her true calling is school nursing, which she discovered 26 years ago.  She has been a National Certified School Nurse since 1990.

"I love school nursing because my passion is preventive health. There are so many avenues in schools to promote health in its many facets. I love working with the students and staff. My nursing degree, health education degree and my counseling education are all implemented in my job and it is very fulfilling," Miller said.

The diverse background and training Miller brings to her work is part of the reason for the award. According to Luann Fogels, president of the Alaska School Nurse Association, Miller weaves together her various nursing experiences, her life experience and her master's degree in education in counseling and guidance to care for her students, their families, her staff and the community.

Miller was also recognized for her leadership on a district and state level. She was directly responsible for initiating, developing and writing the original health curriculum for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, before state and national health curriculums were in place. She also served on the committee that wrote the state health curriculum. When the state of Alaska mandated that teachers be trained in child abuse reporting and fetal alcohol syndrome training, Miller wrote both curricula for the school district.

She is a mentor to students, staff and the community by modeling healthy behavior. Miller is an Alaska School Activities Association-certified coach and has coached cross country running and distance track for 20 years.

Miller is committed to Alaska's children in her job, her community and her state. She is the consummate professional in all that she does and epitomizes school nursing at its best, Fogels said.