“It makes my heart feel happy,” Lori Fanning said, referring to the satisfaction her job as a nurse in Orangeburg Consolidated School District 4 brings her.
“I’ve been a nurse for over 25 years, and it’s probably the most rewarding job I’ve had,” she said.
Sometime ago, one of Fanning’s students was diagnosed with a chronic illness.
“I was there from the beginning and was able to help with the situation, which requires daily care,” Fanning said.
She dealt with the parents and the child and helped them make adjustments in their life situations. It makes her heart feel happy that the child is now able to deal with her illness and meet her own needs, she said.
Fanning, who was recently named OCSD4 Staff Person of the Year, is the nurse at the Cope Area Career Center and the Star Center for Learning.
This job is like no other job, she said, adding, “I feel like I touch lives every day.”
She collaborates with various community agencies to find help for the students and their parents. She checks blood sugar and calculates insulin doses. She also monitors students with other chronic illnesses including sickle cell anemia. It’s important to keep them well hydrated because that helps with the pain, Fanning noted.
She also deals with the emotional and mental needs of her students, she said. Often they face adult issues, peer pressure, bullying and mental illness. Some of them will hurt themselves, and you have to monitor all those things, Fanning said.
She said she tries to make sure her students know they have someone to talk with.
“You have to make sure they feel safe to talk to you,” Fanning said. "If they don’t trust you, they aren’t going to share with you."
A key to helping these students is being compassionate and caring because they often don’t get that at home, she said. You have to make them know they’re special, she noted.
But sometimes you can’t help them, and that’s the hardest part about her job, Fanning said.
They’re in environments that people can’t imagine, and sometimes you just can’t help, she said.
Her goal as a nurse is to strive to make sure her students are healthy so they can learn because they’re better at learning when they feel well, she said.
“Sometimes it’s as simple as listening and encouraging them,” Fanning said. “But sometimes it means taking care of a chronic illness.”
Fanning was selected as Staff Person of the Year for CACC and Star Centers by her peers before going on to meet a committee for further consideration.
She says she’s honored to be chosen, but adds that all the nurses work “really hard” and each one should be honored.
“There are so many people, and I think everybody is definitely a winner,” Fanning said. “Each one should be recognized.”
Fanning has been employed with District 4 for five years. She’s worked in all of the schools, but mainly at the middle and high school levels.
Before moving to OCSD4, she worked with home health for 17 years and prior to that, with the hospital for five years.
Fanning is a graduate of Orangeburg Preparatory School and Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College.
She’s married to her high school sweetheart, Greg Fanning, and they have three girls.