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Ledillon Powers

The Care Remains the Same - A School Nurse’s Timeless Tune

By Nate Fisher

“If you work at school, you don’t have two days in a row alike. You don’t know what’s coming in your door.”

Nurse Ledillon Powers has witnessed significant changes in her time at Meridian since she started in 1976. She recalls when the district retained three RNs and an LPN on staff to cover 500 students. Much like our student population, medical technology and practice have undergone a significant overhaul in Nurse Powers’ lifetime. Health concerns facing students have shifted. A well-needed focus on mental and social health has evolved, moving from addressing only the physiological aspects to initiatives that assist kids in unsafe living conditions. The reorientation toward holistic health education was already in full swing when Nurse Powers appeared on the scene. She was among the first to conduct area health fairs and welcome educational opportunities for student well-being from outside the district.

A Pulaski County native, Nurse Powers graduated from Grand Chain Community High School, which was merged into Century School District 100 in 1963. She attended the nursing program at Baptist Health Science University in Memphis, where she gathered her expertise and then moved on to McComb, Mississippi. For four years, she worked in a Pike County, MS, hospital owned by Dr. Elise Rutledge, who is notable as one of the first women to graduate from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Though the adventures in the South were welcome, she soon pined for a return to the Home of the Blues. During her tenure as a charge and emergency nurse at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, she encountered Doctor Marvin Powers, and the rest is history. “When we got married, I acquired a husband and three kids,” she says, “and then we added one.” Doc Powers wasn’t keen on staying in Memphis, so in 1969, they relocated back to the place Ledillon called home. A lifelong learner and advocate of education, this also enabled her to make her mark and draw important additional training from the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois.

“I tell people that emergency room nursing and skilled nursing are the same, and they look at me like I’ve lost my mind,” Nurse Powers says. The similarities, she explains, are in the inconsistent rhythms of everyday experience for anyone who works in healthcare. “If you work in an ER, you don’t have two days in a row alike. If you work at school, you don’t have two days in a row alike. You don’t know what’s coming in your door.” The two roles run on the same principles, and Nurse Powers is a woman of rock-solid principles. One of these principles isn’t so much about what “comes in your door” but what she offers on the other side of that door. In between class bells, you can find her standing at the threshold of her office to say hello to the students and offer an encouraging word or knowing smile. These actions are healthy for the whole organization and heal the need to feel wanted and accepted, a goal that’s particularly personal for a lifelong nurse.

Meridian’s unique faculty and administration machine naturally enables Nurse Powers on her crusade to evaluate and protect the foundational health of our children. “People here have worked together as a family to make sure that we try to give these kids what they need when they need it,” she stresses. Despite the changes in medical science, education, and the social fabric since she began assisting this area in the 1970s, some fundamentals of our culture have stayed the course. For Nurse Powers, one of those tenets is to “watch kids become what they can become,” and the path to that ascent is partially paved by number of ice-packs dispensed, temperature checks administered, and stomach aches mended by the one and only Nurse Ledillon Powers.

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