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Enlighten Me: Generation Voice

mount pleasant high school
Tom Byrne
Delaware Public Medcia

Our Enlighten Me segment again spotlights Generation Voice - our youth media project that’s completing its first year in the Brandywine School District at Mount Pleasant High School and its radio station 91.7 WMPH. 

The work produced by students with help from our youth media producer Anne Hoffman and Mount Pleasant teacher Paul Wishengrad is showcased on our new Generation Voice website.

And again this week on The Green - we offer a sample of what you’ll find at that website.

When it comes to the nationwide school nurse shortage, Delaware ranks among states with a fairly healthy ratio of students to nurses - 519 to 1. But in in California for example, the student-nurse ratio is 2,240 to 1 - and across the country, fewer than half of all public schools have a nurse available to kids all day, every day, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

And while school nurses can be one of the first lines of defense during an outbreak or public health crisis, Generation Voice student Chynna Williams says they can also provide much needed emotional support to their patients.

That’s what she found her school nurse, Elizabeth Mattey, who is President-elect of the National Association of School Nurses.

My name is Chynna Williams.   My favorite person at my school is Miss Mattey, the nurse. I went to visit her a little while ago with my radio producer, Anne.

When we got to Miss Mattey’s office, who should I run into but Mr. Turner? He’s my guidance counselor. Mr. Turner started describing me, and he was saying nice things.


“A good student, a good athlete, comes from wonderful family, has great ambitions, and has a positive outlook. Like any young person she makes a mistake every now and then but she tries to learn from those mistakes,” he said.

Sometimes I get into trouble, but I do try to learn from my mistakes, so it was nice to hear him say that.

After he left, I sat down to wait for Miss Mattey.

I took out a pamphlet called Being a teenager is tough.

It said, “ Being a teenager is tough. You have so many things to deal with. Pimples, parents, peer pressure, relationships, drugs, alcohol, school, sports.”

I have to say I agree with the pamphlet. It is hard to being a teenager.


While we were waiting, my producer asked me why I feel so drawn to Miss Mattey.

“I didn’t feel embarrassed about telling her like what was wrong with me and stuff, because she won’t judge you. She’s just there for you, and she let me go rest in the back when I had a bad headache,” I told her.


I still think about it. The day when my aunt refused to pick me up, even though I was really sick, not faking at all. Miss Mattey was the only one who understood.


Finally, Miss Mattey was ready, and she showed me how now that we’re teenagers we can take care of some things on our own.


“Come on back this way,” she said. “This is the treatment room. Back this way, now over here we have band aids and chapstick, or eyewash or contact solution.”


Then she showed me the back room where all the more serious stuff is -- not just the chapsticks. The back room is where you go when you’re really sick!


“And we have a refrigerator to keep medicine and ice. A lot of students when they come in, they need ice. I think the first time you came in you needed ice!” she said.


That’s true. I was in gym playing volleyball and as I was playing, I hit the ball too hard and bruised my wrist real bad, and that’s when I first met Miss Mattey.

That day I was really sick, but I have faked before.


So I asked Miss Mattey, “How can you tell when a child is faking sick?”

“It’s hard to tell sometimes,” she answered. “You can’t always tell when kids are sick. But generally kids look sick when they’re really sick, but when they’re faking there’s something going on in their lives that they need a little break from whatever they’re doing. So there’s always something going on.”


I continued. “What could be happening that make them want to fake?”

“Well that’s a good question!” she replied. “It may be that the work in the classroom is too hard, or maybe they’ve been sitting in their classroom for thirty minutes, and they need to get up and walk around because they can’t sit anymore. Or maybe something is going on at home that they’re really worried about. There could be a lot going on with teenagers.”

I remember one time when I faked sick. My plan was to get to school, head to Miss Mattey’s office and pretend to feel bad. Miss Mattey called home to my mom and let her know to pick me up, and she did.

For a while, everything was going good, like it was supposed to, until I started asking my mom if she’d take me to go to my friend’s house and to the park. My mom was like, aren’t you supposed to be sick? And I was like yeah but I feel better now and she was like oh ok well let me take you back to school and I was back in my class at my table looking stupid, and feeling salty that my plan bombed.


But in general I went to see Miss Mattey a lot because I liked talking to her.

“Do you like, like remember me coming in all last year?” I asked her. “Well not all last year but like a couple, about like three times?”


“I remember you in 9th grade, you had hurt your wrist!” she said. “And you came in and you had a real pretty smile, and yes I remember you last year. You act like you came in a lot, but I don’t remember that. But it was always nice to see you.”


I appreciate everything Miss Mattey did for me. And I was happy about the nice things she said about my smile. My radio producer asked me why I trust Miss Mattey.

I thought about it. It’s like, I can be a pretty shy kid. I’d say a lot of my teachers don’t know the real me. It didn’t take me long at all to answer my radio producer’s question.

“I have certain people that I can talk to, but her personally, I could actually sit down and have a conversation with her and I know she’ll really listen to me, and she’ll give me good advice,” I told her.

I guess I feel judged by a lot of adults. They may listen to you but you can tell their mind is somewhere else.

I know that whatever’s going on in my life, I can stop by Miss Mattey’s office, and she’ll always invite me in.