Kim Schumacher, or Nurse Kim as the kids at Meramec Heights Elementary School know her, is a creative and fun loving soul.
Step into her office and you’ll instantly feel better. She’s painted the simple cider block walls with bright accent colors, and hung butterflies, flowers and a disco ball from the ceiling. Other touches of whimsy dot the little office, like a cut out of the school secretary’s photo taped to the P.A. speaker.
Schumacher doesn’t shy away from the spotlight. In last year’s yearbook, she sported a tiara and sequin dress for a “Hollywood” look. But while she's outgoing, she doesn't want all of the attention.
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Patch heard about Schumacher when school board member Ruth Ann Newman—a former Meramec Height’s teacher—heaped praise upon the school nurse for spiffing up the teachers’ lounge. When Patch asked Nurse Kim for an interview, she was reluctant, explaining that the school’s staff was way more important than her.
“I am not the one that should be in the spotlight. It really needs to be our teachers. I was happy to do the lounge—but it was because I truly believe we have the most dedicated, hardest working and caring staff,” she said.
Last year, Meramec Heights was forced to convert the previous staff lounge back into a classroom. The only room left for teachers, assistants and bus drivers to heat up their lunch and eat it away from the noise and bustle of the children was a tiny, dingy room—hardly bigger than a storage closet.
The room previously served as a nurse’s office, so it at least had a private bathroom, but its windows overlooked a patio where old student desks are stacked.
Schumacher worked her magic on the little room over the summer. She painted it a clean, crisp white, hung bright paper lanterns and art panels on the wall. The panels were once a room divider from Garden Ridge with cheerful red flowers. Curtains whipped up from bed sheets disguise the view.
She paid for the makeover out of her own pocket.
Schumacher joked that the next phase of the remodel should be finding a hot tub for the patio.
She said the staff deserve a place where they can sit and relax for a moment. Many teachers simply eat their lunch in their classrooms. She pointed out that her school has a higher than average population of special needs students and kids from troubled families. Teachers, she said, need a calm place to step away from their students, refresh their minds and converse with other grownups during the day.
“She’s the heart and soul of the school,” said Randy Gilman, principal of Meramec Heights.