The District deeply mourns the loss of Ms. Eileen Kline, School Nurse at Paynter Elementary School who passed away on April 6 after a long and courageous battle with viral cardiomyopathy. Eileen was hired by the District in 2001 and was dearly loved by her Paynter children and colleagues. She played a key role in educating our students on Organ and Tissue Donation to increase awareness of the Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) and as her final gift to society, she donated her body for research so that others may also be given a second chance at life.
After receiving her nursing degree, Ms. Kline worked with Dr. Thomas Starzyl's liver transplantation program at Presbyterian Hospital (now UPMC), one of only a few hospitals in the world performing liver, heart, heart-lung, and kidney transplants. Ms. Kline stepped back from her career for ten years to raise her four children. She returned to nursing as the school nurse in the Baldwin-Whitehall School District where she faithfully served for over 20 years.
In 2010, Eileen was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy. She underwent a successful heart transplant procedure that provided her with a second chance at life, echoing the work and care that she had provided to others throughout her career.
Kristen Knorr, teacher at J. E. Harrison Education Center explains, "Nurse Kline had so many roles that she filled. She was a wife and mother, a daughter and sister, a friend and colleague, and let's not forget a philanthropist. Nurse Kline worked for over 20 years in the Baldwin Whitehall School District and that was just one of her jobs. To really know the love that poured from her heart, made you a better person. Nurse Kline felt blessed every day she came to work to see her kids. Nurse Kline was there for the congratulations of a lost tooth, the patching up of minor scrapes and cuts, the more serious: administering of life saving medications, performing first responders duties until an ambulance could arrive, and her most important role in my opinion, teaching our children. She talked about healthy nutrition, being heart smart, and she taught CPR to fifth graders. Nurse Kline took care of eye sight screenings, height and weight, as well as talking and really getting to know kids. She was a fantastic listener. It did not matter to our nurse a child's age, skin color, or varying needs, she loved all children. Our Baldwin children would get off the bus and run into her office to say good morning and be greeted with that enormous smile. We will miss Nurse Kline, our friend, our very own angel."
Tram Vu, HEC teacher, shares these sentiments: "I was so lucky and honored to be Eileen Kline's friend and co-worker for the past 19 years. Eileen was an incredible wife, mother, friend, and co-worker with a big heart! There are so many wonderful things Eileen did in and out of school that taught us how to be compassionate and sympathetic towards each other. Even though she is not with us anymore her amazing legacy will live on with us. She will be missed dearly."
Ray Stark, reflects, "Eileen Kline was truly one of a kind. Nurse Kline or Kliner as some called her, touched the lives of so many throughout her career not just as a nurse here at Baldwin, but in countless other health-related fields. She made it her mission to educate our students on healthy living and, more importantly, was there to support each and every single student along the way. There will be a common theme when Eileen Kline's name gets brought up: she was one of the most compassionate, humble and kind-hearted people around. No matter how busy she was (which was always) if you walked into her office for advice she would stop everything and take the time to listen. Those talks and advice she gave me on becoming a dad and raising four children are something I will forever be grateful for. Eileen Kline was truly a wonderful person inside and out and her impact on this district will be felt for many years to come. I am lucky to have known her and even luckier to have called her a friend."
HEC teacher Katie Glies shares, "There are truly no words to explain how much Nurse Kline did for the students and staff of Paynter Elementary School everyday. She did the expected routines of a school nurse—dispensing medicines, taking temperatures and putting on bandaids—but the real magic of Nurse Kline was everything she did when no one was looking. When a child lost a tooth she gave them a necklace and had them sign a special "Lost Tooth Club" sign, she always stored extra snacks for students who forgot to eat breakfast, she collected coats, hats, and gloves for students who were in need, and, even when there were ten other students in her office, she took the time to talk to every child and make them feel special. Nurse Kline not only took care of our kids, but she took care of the staff, always giving advice, making sweet treats for a special occasion, and making sure that we were taking care of ourselves. Nurse Kline was the coordinator of Jump Rope for Heart for the past several years and raised over $20,000 dollars each year. She took so much time and pride in this event, having received a heart transplant herself. Nurse Kline truly was the heart of Paynter Elementary School, she was so very LOVED by so many people and will be greatly missed throughout the community."
Principal Fusco reflects, "Mrs. Kline was everything to everyone! It's very difficult to put into words what she meant to the students, the faculty, and to me! When students walked into Mrs. Kline's office, they entered a nurturing, caring environment that is so important for our elementary level students. She loved her job so much and cared for every student as if they were her own. Whether it was cleaning up a scraped knee from recess or testing a students' blood sugar, she made every student feel safe and loved."
Eileen was one of the leading fundraisers for the American Heart Association for many years and in her honor, the District has organizing a fundraiser for the AHA.
Prepared for the April issue of Highlander Highlights.