Martinez honored as Nurse of the Year

Jessica Martinez poses for a photo after being named Nurse of the Year for Ector County ISD. This will be her fifth year at Cavazos Elementary School. (Courtesy Photo)

The Ector County ISD Nurse of the Year Award came as (almost) a surprise to Jessica Martinez.

Stationed at Cavazos Elementary School, Martinez said her principal told her not to look dirty when top brass from Ector County ISD turned up to give her the recognition.

The only reason her principal told her was that every year they have a color run for the students and Martinez is out there most of the time and gets covered in different colors of powder.

“She didn’t want me to be covered in powder, so she had told me the day before … I looked like an Oompa Loompa. I was covered in orange and blue. But the kids enjoy it. The kids all get covered in powder,” Martinez said.

In any case, Martinez was very honored to receive the honor.

“I was definitely not expecting to be nominated. My thing is … I just come and do my job and that’s it,” but someone thought she was doing it well, Martinez said.

Winning the award makes her want to work even harder.

“Because now you have to live up to it. Every day, you’re going to do a little bit more just to make sure that nobody says you didn’t deserve it,” Martinez said.

She added that when she’s not helping a patient, she’ll help out in the office by answering phones, taking messages, making copies and passing out paperwork. Martinez noted that the more they work together, the more they can get done for the sake of the kids.

Originally from El Paso, Martinez moved to Odessa when she was 4. She earned an associate degree in nursing from Odessa College and worked at Medical Center Hospital as a nurse for 12 years.

Right after COVID hit, she left MCH. A friend suggested applying to ECISD and she starts her fifth year in the fall. She also works part time at an IV therapy establishment, Enliven, to keep up her IV skills.

Martinez said the patients you see at the hospital are very different from those in a school. She does give medications for asthmatics or ADHD.

“In the hospital you see all kinds of stuff; acute stuff; things like that. Here you just take care of little boo-boos. … I have had my share of broken arms and burns unfortunately, but it’s different; definitely different,” Martinez said.

It’s definitely a nice environment to work in.

“Little kids are great. They’re lovable. They want hugs. Most of the time they come to see me, they just want me to do something whether just give them a little bag of ice or a mint or something and they’re content,” Martinez said.

Jessica Martinez, school nurse at Cavazos Elementary, reacts to being named Nurse of the Year. She was very honored to receive the recognition. (Courtesy Photo)

Mondays and Fridays are her busiest days.

“Monday because they don’t want to come back to school. But it really depends. I can see anywhere from 30 to 60 kids a day,” Martinez said.

She mainly sees students, but once in a while a staff member will come in. If someone doesn’t feel well, she might check their blood pressure.

The campus has about 700 students in grades prekindergarten 4 through fifth grade.

Martinez said what she enjoys about nursing is helping people.

“Especially here, I like helping the kids,” she said.

Martinez is married to Jeremy Cortez.

Ali Hernandez, a nurse at George H.W. Bush New Tech Odessa, OCTECHS and Odessa Collegiate Academy, said Martinez is an exemplary example of what a school nurse is.

“The heart she has for her students, families and staff is evident through her day to day interactions. She is willing to go that extra mile to further meet the health and well-being needs of our students and community,” Hernandez said.