Nurse Becker to retire after 17 years of service


Nurse Kathleen Becker will be remembered for her supporting and kind nature. PHOTO/Christopher Fehl

By Grace Wang and Matthew Sakai

Nurse Kathleen Becker will be remembered for her supporting and kind nature. PHOTO/Christopher Fehl

Whether in need of a band-aid or a confident hand to check the severity of a fever, students know they can always count on Nurse Kathleen Becker. Beloved for her warm and welcoming smile and trusted for her expertise, she will be sorely missed after her retirement this school year.

“I was one of the fortunate people to know, from the day I was born, I wanted to become a nurse,” she said with a certain nod. “I am the oldest of nine children, so I  was caretaking because I had to. I am 67 years old, grew up in 1950s and there were very few career options for people back then.”

Prior to starting her career in Weston in 1997, Becker worked in Boston as a visiting nurse and also at Massachusetts General Hospital, Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and in the occupational health department at John Hancock.

Despite this extensive experience, Becker described her time at WPS as “the capstone of [her] career” and said she has noticed significant change over the course of her time in Weston.

“Some of the changes are the stress and anxiety kids are experiencing that manifests itself in more emotional problems and need for support. We didn’t have Bridge or youth counselors years ago, and now both programs are highly sought out by students,” Becker said.

As the school nurse Becker has seen it all, and her concern for students’ well-being goes beyond their physical health.

  “Kids are so fearful of not being perfect, [but] high school is a good place to make mistakes… because that’s how you learn and grow,” she said. “[Kids] stress over a hiccup or speed bump on the road of life. We want you to be able to advocate for yourself, make healthy choices, and have life skills that will make you resilient. There is no shame in making mistakes.”

  In addition to being a caretaker, Becker has also acted as a role model for students. One student in particular stands out in her memory.

  “One young lady graduated years ago with severe food allergies. The poor kid had to take an epi pen once a month. Back in the days, they didn’t have food allergy policies. I think I helped her empower herself,” Becker said.

  Becker said school nurses today still need to advocate for students with medical needs.

   “I make people more aware that having a food allergy is a civil disability underneath civil rights legislation,” she said.

As the school nurse, Becker sees many familiar faces over the course of the day. Even though Becker has strenuous days and sometimes leaves work late at night, she said her daily interaction with coworkers and kids make her job worth it.

  “I love the relationships I developed with students and colleagues…. I love the growth and maturity that happens in the four  short years kids are here. I think it is amazing to see kids grow and blossom,” Becker said.

   Becker said she has enjoyed seeing children flourish and find their unique passion.

  “What I love about WHS is that there is something for everybody to do,” she said. “I love the fact that there are very special people who take kids who might be marginalized and bring them into a group.”

Though Becker said she will miss her work at WHS, her impact on the school community will not be forgotten.

  “I will miss her sweet and open nature. She was really welcoming, supportive and helpful to me my first year,” history teacher Francellis Quiñones said.

Physical education teacher Richard Brissette said he remembers working with Becker as 2008 class advisors, and admired her dedication to students.

  “Even if it wasn’t convenient for her, she’d still find a way to help anyone at anytime,” Brissette said.

Bridge aide Cynthia Neal said Becker “was always there to lend a helping hand” and will be missed.

“Her positive attitude helped everyone get through each day,” Neal said. “We will miss her love and caring attitude and wish her great success in her retirement.”

Guidance secretary Christine Wadsworth said Becker’s community involvement has inspired her for the 17 years that she has known her. For example, Becker and her family spearheaded the organization ‘Christmas in the City,’ which is a volunteer-run nonprofit that gives 100% of their funds raised to homeless kids and their families.

  “Ms. Becker’s kindness was a gift to all of us,” Wadsworth said. “Her patience and understanding will be missed.”

  For Becker, her retirement is bittersweet.

  “I will miss the relationships and the positive energy here. I will miss colleagues, my fellow nurses, Ms. Donovan, the administration, the guidance [department], the long hours,” Becker said. “When you spend so much time, people become your friends… I am proud of what I am leaving behind. You guys are going to be in good hands.”