Principal Lindsay Starnes
Posted on 05/14/2024
Principal Lindsay Starnes

Chattanooga, Tennessee- Clifton Hills Elementary School Principal Lindsay Starnes is an excellent example of how using personalization and unique needs of students to drive positive, innovative supports can increase learning outcomes for students. 

When the district launched its strategic staffing model last year, Principal Starnes' goal was to find a way to keep students at school to ensure they are able to learn. Understanding the critical link between health and education, Principal Starnes utilized school staffing funds creatively to transition the school nurse position to a nurse practitioner role. This strategic move aimed to address a significant root cause of why students’ were missing school—lack of immediate healthcare access. Nurse Melody Halloran now provides on-site medical care, including sick visits and writing prescriptions, ensuring that students can receive prompt treatment and feel better as quickly as possible. Having this access means a student who has an illness can receive medical attention and retreatment which significantly decreases the amount of missed days because they feel better faster and can return to school.  

“By having a full-time nurse practitioner on staff, we are not just treating illnesses but are actively keeping our students learning in their classrooms. This initiative is a testament to our commitment to every student's learning and well-being," said Principal Starnes. Through partnerships with local pharmacies and school health programs, the school has equipped the clinic to offer extended healthcare services, thus minimizing the barriers to student attendance and engagement.

The partnerships provide supplies to stock the clinic, and the school social worker assists families with access to programs to obtain low or no cost prescriptions. For prescriptions that may still have a cost that limits a families access, the school has donated walgreens gift cards that can be provided for families to cover prescription costs. 

The impact of this program is already reflected in school data. Since the introduction of a full-time nurse practitioner, Clifton Hills has seen a noticeable decrease in student absences.

Nurse Halloran has been grateful for the experience to join the Clifton Hills Community and develop meaningful relationships with students and families. “Being part of the school community, connecting with families during school events, and supporting our working parents has enriched my experience as well as the lives of our students," shared Nurse Halloran. 

Hamilton County Schools remains committed to its strategic plan, Opportunity 2030, to create opportunities by design for every student, and the success at Clifton Hills is a promising model of this commitment in action.