NEW LEXINGTON – At the Wednesday, Jan. 13 meeting of the Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools (CORAS), superintendents from across southeastern Ohio recognized staff members who had been nominated in the fall to be recipients of CORAS annual “Heroes” Award. This ceremony is traditionally held in a formal setting, but COVID-19 forced the award ceremony to be a Zoom presentation.
Taking home the Heroes Award for the New Lexington School District was School Nurse Molly Dupler. Calling her selection “an easy choice,” Supt. Casey Coffey said no other New Lexington staff member represents the district’s efforts in the day-to-day fight to protect students from COVID-19 more than Dupler.
Perhaps a factor that sharpens her perspective on the challenges facing teachers in the face of the pandemic is Dupler’s certification as a licensed teacher in addition to being a nurse. However, a conversation with Dupler reveals there’s much more to her character than certificates hanging in a frame on an office wall.
”I am devoted to my profession to the point that I am finding myself in the role of being a counselor too,” she said. Coffey interjected that Dupler is on the phone every evening, answering questions from parents that constantly arise concerning COVID-19.
A typical Monday for Dupler usually has her seeing 40-50 students. Their needs range from counseling issues to calling parents recommending their child be tested for COVID-19. Dupler said she is not permitted to conduct the COVID-19 test. In the Wellness Center, Dupler can see multiple students while still following the protocols of social distancing.
Balancing her professional role with her personal responsibilities has created its own set of protocols for Dupler. When she returns home, the mother of four children heads for the shower before ever giving her kids a hug.
While everyone has an eye on the COVID-19 finish line with the vaccine now becoming available, Dupler sees many of the new normal protocols remaining after widespread vaccinations.
”Our school buildings are cleaner than they have ever been, and I see that practice continuing,” says Dupler. She believes sitting in the family doctor’s lobby with 20 other sick individuals will be a thing of the past.
”People are waiting in their cars in the doctor’s parking lot until they’re summoned to enter the office,” says Dupler, adding that she believes this will become the new standard.
When asked if she worries for her safety as she cares for New Lexington’s students, Dupler’s eyes crinkled and even her face mask couldn’t hide the smile behind it. Before she could answer, Coffey fielded the question.
”Molly is a dynamic person. She’s a leader, a mom, a wife, and a nurse to all. She is not afraid,” responded Coffey. “She is extremely passionate about what she believes in. She is highly trusted by all. Our kids and staff are lucky to have Molly.”
Congratulations to Molly Dupler on such a deserving honor. New Lexington is fortunate to claim this hero as one of their own.