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Unsung heroes: Renee D’Allesandro and Mary Palm

“Unsung Heroes” is a new series of interviews and photos of Concord High School staff members who are underappreciated. They all help the school in their own way, perhaps by cleaning bathrooms, working in the cafeteria or answering phones.

Fourth in the series is a conversation with school nurses Renee D’Allesandro and Mary Palm.

Question: “Do you live in the Concord area?”

Renee D’Allesandro: “I live in Bow, New Hampshire. So I am very close to Concord, only about 10 minutes away.”

Mary Palm: “I recently moved from Bow to Manchester.”

Q: “Do you have any children?”

D’Allesandro: “I have 5 children, ages 23 to 13.”

Palm: “I have 2 children. My son is 29 and my daughter is 27. My son lives in Somerville, Massachusetts and my daughter is down in Virginia.”

Q: “Have you worked anywhere else?”

Renee D’Allesandro: “Before I worked at Concord High School, I worked at Pittsfield High School/Middle School as a school nurse. And I also used to work at the Bow school district as a substitute nurse, and before that I was a hospice nurse for Home Health and Hospice.”

Mary Palm: “I’ve been a nurse for 33 years, so I’ve worked at many places. But I started out at Mass General in Boston and did 13 years of hospital nursing, but I switched around to large teaching hospitals like in Washington, DC, Hartford, Connecticut, Portsmouth Hospital, CMC, and then I worked at Pinkerton Academy as a school nurse. I’ve worked for the Visiting Nurses in Concord, and I‘ve worked at Concord High School.”

Q: “How long have you worked at Concord High School?”

D’Allesandro: “This is my third year working at Concord High School.”

Palm: “This is my 17th year working at Concord High School.”

Q: “How did you get the job?”

D’Allesandro: “I got the job by applying online, and meeting with Steve Rothenberg and Gene Connolly. And after the interview, I was offered the position.”

Palm: “After having my children, I developed an interest in children and schools, and was thinking of how I could work that into a  career. So I started subbing as a school nurse in the Concord school district and really enjoyed it. So I was able to get experience at all different levels, and decided that I really enjoyed the high school. So when a position opened up, they actually called me and said ‘This nurse is leaving, would you be interested in applying?’ and I did, and I got the job.”

Q: “What is the hardest part of your job?”

D’Allesandro: “The hardest part of the job, I would say, is having time to make sure you have enough  time to spend with each student individually. And just making sure you connect with each one, and help them; whether that’s connecting them with someone else in the school or education, getting them the resources to help.  But that takes time, so making sure you have enough time that everyone feels that they are getting quality care.”

Palm: “I would say the hardest part, is very similar; it can be a very busy office. And just trying to constantly triage and take care of what is most important at that time. But also giving quality time to each student coming in.”

Q: “How do you and the people who do your type of job help Concord High School every day?”

D’Allesandro: “The  biggest thing is that we have to work as a team and collaborate with everyone in the school to be sure that we all work together to be sure that all of the students get the best care possible.”

Palm: “I agree with what Renee said, that we have to do our best to keep our students healthy so that they can be at their highest potential for learning.”

Q: “What is the easiest or most fun part of your job?”

D’Allesandro: “I would say the best part of the job is getting to know the students and hearing their stories and connecting with them. It is a great community to work with and feeling that I can be a part of the Concord community. Not just the school, but the whole Concord community.”

Palm: “My favorite part is working with the students. I love talking to the students, and like Renee said, finding out about things they’re involved in, their families, what they did over vacation.”

Q: “What is the strangest thing that ever happened during your job here at Concord High School?”

Palm: “I don’t think that anything seems strange here. Anything seems to happen here.”

D’Allesandro: “Whatever walks through the door!”

Q: “What can the students of Concord High do to make your job easier?”

Palm: “I think our job is easier when our students are able to communicate clearly what their needs are.”

D’Allesandro: “I agree with Mary.”

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