Photo by Patrick Hall.
San Dieguito Academy

Unsung Heroes: Pandora Johnson, the heath technician who extends far past placing a band-aid

If there is one thing almost everyone can relate to, it’s being stuck somewhere for a full day and feeling absolutely sick and miserable. Fortunately, the students of San Dieguito High School Academy have health technician Pandora Johnson to lend a hand.

There is a common misconception that school health technicians, such as Johnson, are merely there to bandage skinned knees. And while Johnson does “bandage skinned knees, skinned elbows, skinned shins, [and] anything skinned up,” her work for the students of San Dieguito extends far past placing a band-aid onto a scrape.

Johnson explained not only does she care for students who feel unwell, take their temperatures and give them a place to rest until parents come to pick them up, but she also looks after students with chronic health conditions. Regardless of the severity of the condition–ranging from migraines to asthma to those that are far more serious–Johnson said she will always “take care of them as they come in.”

Johnson explains she initially was bent on becoming an English and theater arts teacher. She received her certification in teaching, but when she had a son with special needs, her priorities changed. She began working with teens in a school environment where she had to “help other students who had feeding tubes and who were in wheelchairs.” After such experiences, “[I] realized that I could do it,” she said.

She then proceeded to gain a strong background and knowledge of “CPR training and first aid training, a knowledge of immunizations and office organizational skills.”

Since she has served as a health technician, Johnson has found that most students coming into the health office are at the “lowest point in their day and they are not feeling well.”

“They want to go home…. And so, I try to give them comfort…. But, mostly, it’s caring for students, and that’s what I like the most,” she said.  Johnson also added that she also makes a strong effort to get to know each student on an individual basis, especially those with chronic health conditions who visit her office on a regular and sometimes daily basis.

“I love hearing about how [students’ days are] going, and what’s going on at home if they want to share that…. It’s great working at a high school or middle school campus, and I really enjoy it,” she said.