School health center leaders at Columbus Middle School in Canoga believe that a strong relationship with school administrators is vital to their center’s success. They therefore put significant effort into proactively building that relationship. School health center staff make time to get to know administrators both individually and through regular attendance at key gatherings, such as staff meetings, back to school nights, coffee-with-the-principal conversations, and PTA, School Site Council, and Resource Coordination Team meetings. They invite administrators to attend health center events, making sure to schedule them at convenient times. They provide the principal with a list of current clinic staff and their areas of expertise, along with a menu of professional development topics and presentations that the health center can provide for parents or staff. Health center staff also regularly acknowledge administrators for their hard work and support of the health center, and share with school district directors and the superintendent the positive contributions and dedicated leadership that school administrators provide.
School health center staff also build strong relationships with other members of the school community, including parents, teachers, the custodial team, the attendance office staff, and the principal’s administrative assistant. They invite all staff to hold their meetings inside the health center’s large conference room. They also provide some services, such as flu shots and health screenings, to staff and parents at no cost. Recently, when health center staff wanted to evaluate the impact of their immunization program on student attendance, they asked the attendance office to compile the relevant reports. Because they knew that this request took time—and because it went above and beyond the attendance office’s regular responsibilities—health center staff not only personally thanked their colleagues but also let the principal know how helpful and responsive clerical staff had been.
School health center leaders are careful neither to be seen as—nor to operate as—a “separate entity.” As a result, the Columbus Middle School health center is truly integrated into the campus and visible at all campus events. This integration enhances the health center’s impact: with the entire school community supporting the health center’s efforts, more students are referred for critical services and receive the individualized support necessary for long-term success.