Ann Lumbar Bendson said she knew she always wanted to go into a profession in which she could care for others.
The longtime Minneapolis Public Schools nurse was honored for a career of doing so earlier this month.
Lumbar Bendson, who estimated she has worked at Kenny Community School at least 13 years, was named School Nurse of the Year by the School Nurse Organization of Minnesota, the state’s organization for school nurses. She said she found out about the award while she and her family were on vacation to Colorado this summer.
She added that it felt like validation for the work she does but that she was also quite surprised to receive it.
Lumbar Bendson decided to go into nursing as an undergraduate student at the University of St. Thomas, where she was one of five St. Thomas students selected for the St. Catherine University’s nursing program. She subsequently earned a master’s degree in nursing with a focus on adolescent health from the University of Minnesota, before beginning with MPS in 1998.
Lumbar Bendson has worked at several schools around Minneapolis and currently works at DeLaSalle High School in addition to Kenny. She is also in charge of health programming for the district’s home-school program.
There is no such thing as a typical day on the job, Lumbar Bendson said, noting that the role involves everything from managing chronic conditions to developing, writing and monitoring health plans. The position also involves helping families get the resources they need to empower their kids, she said, from doctor’s appointments to vision screenings.
Lumbar Bendson said she thinks all aspects of the job are rewarding, but it’s especially neat to see the students grow into amazing adults. She said she gets the most satisfaction knowing that for some students “I mattered and helped them through something that was difficult.”
In addition to her school work, Lumbar Bendson has been a leader at the district level, helping MPS develop a nursing mission statement and a director of nursing position. A press release from the School Nurse Organization of Minnesota noted Lumbar Bendson is a co-leader for the grief recovery program in the Twin Cities, adding that she has been instrumental in partnering with the Phillips Eye Institute to provide vision screening and glasses.
Lumbar Bendson lives in Minnetonka with her husband and two sons. She said she’s big on self-care and personal wellness, noting her participation on a women’s hockey team called Ms. Conduct.