By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sara Midura should have been on her way to Dallas two weeks ago to pick up a national award recognizing her teaching skills.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus put an end to those travel plans. Midura, a teacher at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, learned earlier this year that she was to be honored with the Nan Songer Award from HEAL, the Hospital Educator and Academic Liaison Association.
The award recognizes the commitment and expertise of a HEAL member who demonstrates excellence in the delivery of school intervention, liaison and re-entry services and/or educational supports for students with medical and/or mental health needs.
Her manager, Kristin Wikel, is thrilled to see Midura recognized.
“This is a huge accomplishment, as we were in competition with hundreds of other educators, and this will be the first time that a Riley educator has won this award,” Wikel said.
Midura, who was nominated for Indiana Teacher of the Year in 2018, has been at Riley four years. She did her student teaching at Riley while finishing her education degree at Butler University, then was lucky enough to step into an open position after graduation.
In February, we caught up with the young educator as she worked on the rehab floor with a boy who was recovering from an accident. While she and Waylon rolled the dice on a chicken board game, she talked about what her Riley kids mean to her.
“Riley is the best,” she said. “It’s really all about the connection with the kids and making their days better.”
She was doing just that with Waylon, who joyfully practiced his reading and counting skills even while he thought he was just playing a game.
When she was pursuing her teaching degree, Midura never imagined her career would take her into a hospital.
“I didn’t even know this kind of job existed,” she said. “It was just fate. I was lucky enough to go to Butler, and that’s how I learned about it.”
Now, she can’t imagine doing anything else. Unfortunately, she will find out soon enough. Midura shared recently that she will be moving to Michigan, leaving her Riley family behind.
“It’s so, so sad to think about leaving,” she said. “It’s very bittersweet for me. I will miss Riley and everyone I have had the privilege to work with so much.”
Wikel describes Midura as an “amazing educator, colleague and friend,” as well as a leader in the state in the area of social and emotional learning in a hospital setting.
“I am honored that I get to work with such amazing educators within the Riley School Program,” Wikel added. “Each team member brings a vast array of talents to our program while living out the IU Health values each and every day.”
While the school team is currently practicing social distancing from patients, teachers continue to offer educational services remotely to children and families at Riley. In addition, the school program has expanded its remote tutoring support hub to include IU Health Methodist and University team members whose kids are in grades K-12.
Midura says the hospital education experience has opened her eyes to the gap between the medical world and the school classroom.
“Classroom teachers are expected to do so much anyway, you can’t expect them to know how to work with kids with traumatic brain injuries or other serious illnesses,” she said. “I love that we can bridge that gap between the hospital and the school.”
Photos by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist, email@example.com