Last year, Bethel Public Schools hired mother of four and Bethel Acres resident Jill Thomas as the very first district nurse.

According to Thomas, she spends all of her time caring for over a thousand children in the district whether they get sick or hurt.

"My daily life here consists of taking care of the kids with chronic illnesses," Thomas said. "A lot of that would be my Diabetic students, monitoring those who have seizures, asthma and those kind of conditions."

Thomas said she never knows fully what to expect each day as a nurse, but she loves her job and helping students.

"I think for me why I love it is I get to form relationships with each kid. I can tell how they feel by looking at them and that's my strength," Thomas said. "I love to build relationships and get to know them."

The nurse said while she over sees four different school sites, she has quite a bit of help from the secretaries in each building.

"They are the ones that actually distribute the medications because there is only one of me and...we have administrative support who give out meds at each campus," Thomas said.

In addition to communicating with the district's staff, Thomas said she is in constant communication with the parents of children who need her assistance.

According to Thomas and the National Association of School Nurses, only 39.3 percent of schools across the country hire a full time nurse.

Thomas said she began working as Bethel's nurse in January and while the administrative staff was doing well, the district was spread thin.

"My (nursing) job came about with the need for someone to help because the administrative staff had so many other jobs that they were having to do and...it was a need that our superintendent and principal saw," Thomas said.

The nurse said she and her family are originally from North Carolina, but they moved to Bethel in 2015 after her husband Heath received a new job at Oklahoma Baptist University.

Thomas received two Bachelor's degrees, one in community health from Texas A&M and another in nursing from the University of Texas.

She said she wanted to combine her love for nursing and school after being a substitute teacher at Bethel.

"I had a desire to do school nursing having subbed and been in the school and I thought 'you know I'd love to be in a school. I'm just going to go a head and get my school nursing certification,"' Thomas said.

The mother of four explained after getting her certification, the timing worked out amazingly as Bethel decided to offer the full time nursing position.

"My four children are here...and so my heart has been in this school always," Thomas said. "I knew Bethel was an amazing community and I knew I wanted all my children at one campus and I fell in love with the people and this school."

For Thomas, one of the best aspects of being a school nurse is seeing her children, but she also said this position is her dream job because she makes an impact.

"I feel like (a) huge part of school nursing is showing these kids that they're loved and so some of these kids might pop in for a headache, but a lot of it is me showing (them) they're loved," Thomas said. "It's very rewarding."

According to nine-year-old BrynLeigh Justus, Thomas is a great nurse and Justus said she enjoys spending time with her every day.

"(I love) everything. (I love) that she helps me with my Diabetes. (I feel) happy that she's helping me," Justus said. "(She) comes everyday at lunch time and snack time and before P.E."

Thomas said Justus was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes last year around the same time Thomas began working as a school nurse and she is one of the students she's built a strong connection with.

Being the district's only nurse is not without its hardships Thomas said as it can be challenging helping so many children.

"I can't be in four places at once. I still have to rely heavily on some of the support staff," Thomas said. "They still are the dream team. They do so much for me...There's still challenges with being one person and then being the first (nurse)."

Despite all of that however, Thomas said Bethel Public Schools is a place where she can keep evolving and growing.

As Bethel's nurse, Thomas said she helps students with their health be it an emergency or a fever, but she also educates them on ways to remain healthy.

"I have a lot of teaching moments throughout the day, so when these kids come in I get to teach them about how to eat well, how much sleep they need (and) how much water they need to be drinking," Thomas said.

As time goes on, Thomas said she hopes to continue to learn new ways to help the students and staff of Bethel Public Schools.

"I have a lot to learn. I'm continuously looking to other school nurses in the area," Thomas said. "I'm learning better ways to do things. How to document and...different ways that I can equip each campus and train more people."