Crystal Nelson, RN, MSN
Crystal Nelson is the program manager for Healthy Kids, Healthy Minds, an initiative that is managed by the Child Health Advocacy and Outreach department of St. Louis Children’s Hospital. The program places nurses and mental health professionals in four St. Louis public schools to help positively impact educational and health outcomes and minimize health-risk behaviors among students. It was introduced during the 2017-2018 school year.
Nelson brings 20 years of community health experience to the position. Prior to joining Healthy Kids, Healthy Minds, she served 10 years as director of health services in the Hazelwood School District, which is the second largest district in St. Louis County.
She is a graduate of the Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College and earned a Master of Science in Nursing from Chamberlain University’s College of Nursing in St. Louis.
“I love to hear ‘hey nurse’ and ‘good morning nurse’ from my students,” says Monique Fitzgerald, a Healthy Kids Healthy Minds (HKHM) school nurse assigned to Pierre Laclede Junior Career Academy. Her journey to becoming a school nurse was not a straight path. Along the way, she became a mom, and later worked in hospital settings as an entry-level patient care assistant and technician. She says her work in fast-paced hospital units helped develop a foundation and zest for a career in nursing. She found her way through balancing motherhood and work responsibilities to earn an applied science nursing degree in 2014 from Forest Park Community College. As a school nurse, she see’s first-hand how the HKHM and other St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s Child Health Advocacy and Outreach programs benefit students in St. Louis area inner-city schools. Being the mom of Roman and Phoenix are motivators and encouragement for Fitzgerald to press on with her Chamberlain College of Nursing studies to complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Valerie Gregory, BSN, RN, MA
Valerie Gregory transferred to Healthy Kids Healthy Minds from the BJC Behavioral Health department. She aims to use her knowledge as a former reading specialist and educator in her role as a school nurse assigned to North Side Community School. She is trained as a licensed certified psychological examiner with more than 15 years’ experience serving public school students. She believes there is definitely a connection between the mind and body as it relates to one’s state of being and one’s health. This realization prompted Gregory to return to school and obtain a BS degree in nursing from Webster University. She earned a master’s degree from Saint Louis University in educational psychology. Her goal is “to be the nurse she wants to receive.”
TaJuana Jones (TJ), MSW, LCSW
Educational Support Counselor
TaJuana Jones (TJ) brings to the Healthy Kids, Healthy Minds program more than 10 years of experience with a Master of Social Work degree from Saint Louis University and is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). She holds a specialization in clinical practice with individuals and families. Jones is passionate about the social and emotional development of children who may be experiencing hardships and focuses on improving their overall quality of life to help them reach their full potential.
Jones says motherhood inspired her to continue teaching children how to acquire the successfully skills to function and interact in the world around them. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with loved ones, traveling, writing, researching, dancing and doing nothing when she can.
Jessica McCullough, RN, BSN
Jessica McCullough has been a nurse at St. Louis Children’s Hospital for 10 years. When the Healthy Kids, Healthy Minds program began in 2017, she was hired as a school nurse at Hodgen Tech. She began her career as a nurse on the Pulmonary Unit at St. Louis Children’s Hospital; worked briefly at Texas Children’s Hospital, and has a background in home health through Advantage Nursing Services.
She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Emily Salmieri, LMSW
Educational Support Counselor
Emily Salmieri believes in the state of well-being, individually and as a society. Her passion for a healthy mind and body has been cultivated as a St. Louis Children’s Hospital employee since 2014. Prior to joining the Healthy Kids, Healthy Minds program in 2017, she was a social worker with Healthy Kids Express, which is also part of the hospital’s Child Health Advocacy and Outreach department. She now serves as the educational support counselor at Hodgen Elementary School.
Salmieri earned an undergraduate degree in communications from the University of Missouri-Saint Louis, and a Master’s in Social Work from Saint Louis University. She is a licensed master social worker (LMSW) and is currently pursuing her clinical license in social work.
Behavioral Health Therapist
Shaina Smith is a native St. Louisan who comes to Healthy Kids Healthy Minds with an array of social work experiences. In 2012, she graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work. She continued her studies at the University of Missouri – Columbia and earned a Master of Social Work degree in 2015. In 2018 she was awarded a clinical license to practice therapy. She has served children, adolescents, young adults, adults, older adults, and families in inpatient and outpatient settings in both rural and urban locations. Specific to clinical services, she has treated trauma, substance use, and chronic suicidality. When not performing her duties as a behavioral health therapist at the Confluence Academy-Old North campus, she can be found spending time outdoors, watching and participating in sports, or engaging in the art of online shopping.
Kirsten Wilford, BSN, RN
Kirsten Wilford’s extensive nursing experience began at Missouri Baptist Medical Center, where she helped make the journey of cancer a little less difficult for patients. In labor and delivery, she provided routine and emergency care to new mothers and was instrumental in assisting with the initial stabilization and care of newborns immediately after birth.
Wilford is a school nurse at Lexington Elementary School. She is a Saint Louis Public Schools at Carnahan High School of the Future graduate. She earned a health science degree and a nursing degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. “I’ve searched for an opportunity to serve the community that made me who I am and working with the children in the Saint Louis Public Schools is just that,” she says.