Megan Prehemo, Canaan’s school nurse, knows how to “pump up the jam,” with her colleagues, and students in the uppermost eastern corner of Vermont, New Hampshire and Canada. In late May when we visited, Prehemo first shared many of the wellness events she offered to staff over the truncated school year. We then walked to Canaan’s town park where we encountered some of her present and former students and two of her colleagues, Oxanna Joose and Kathy Smith, who were unloading their bicycles from the back of a pick-up truck while sharing their accolades for Prehemo. “She is chock full of inspiration,” said Joose. She organizes and encourages staff to take on many activities including yoga, walks, hikes and salad making after which we feel better physically and mentally.” “Megan is our school nurse, but she is so much more than that,” said Smith. “She is a confidant for students and teachers alike and is positive and encouraging in any situation. She is a role model for healthy living by eating right and exercising regularly and she is patient beyond belief. She truly cares about people’s health and well-being.”
Following a picture-perfect hilarious but short bicycle ride with Joose and Smith, we followed Prehemo to Pittsburg, New Hampshire and one of the lovely places she takes her dog out walking. “I have lived here since I was in third grade,” she said. “My family has lived here as far back as my great great grandparents and perhaps even further.”
Prehemo hasn’t shied away from exploring all that nursing has to offer. “I started out my career in the hospital setting working in med surg, OB, ER and OR and then moved on to home health. From there I worked in various capacities at a community health center including: a rooming RN, the outreach coordinator, the family planning nurse and the office manager. My career in school health began in 2006 when the Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital (UCVH) had a contract with some schools for school nurses. I was the school nurse manager for this program and the Colebrook Elementary School nurse. In 2008, I accepted the nursing position here at Canaan. I love caring for people and gained so much from each of my positions. Working with children is a passion of mine and it is like being a mom to lots of children.”
And in that role, Prehemo has added more, as part of Canaan school’s summer program for youth and is now serving as the school’s graduation coordinator. “This year with COVID 19 the summer program is different. All the summer school staff are putting together activities and we are delivering the summer surprise sacks to each home of those interested weekly,” she said. “And because I like to organize events, I knew the graduation coordinator position would offer me another way to form meaningful relationships with students and their families.”
As the school’s VEHI PATH Building Leader and districts VEHI Champion, Prehemo sends out a survey each year to learn more about what wellness-oriented events employees are seeking. “This year several people wanted to take on a kayak trip,” she said. “When people began going out once again in groups of less than ten, I put out a quick invitation and organized a trip down the Connecticut River.”
Prehemo’s love of learning was further piqued this year after she was introduced to Intrinsic Coaching, a method for guiding individuals to find their best thinking, at VEHI PATH’s fall wellness leader training. “I took series One and Two of the Intrinsic Coaching course, completed it and passed the certification,” she said. “Though I’m not sure where it may take me, the skills and information I was introduced to have benefited me as an individual as well as changed my mindset when working with others. It is so important to meet people where they are.”
Prehemo and her husband have two sons, Cole, 21 and Carter, 16. She and her husband recently purchased more acreage in Pittsburg and are now in the process of building a new home. The entire family revels in being in the outdoors in all seasons and exploring what the wilderness surrounding this part of New England has to offer.