Last fall, a group of students at Irving High School noticed a classmate gasping for breath and brought it to the attention of their teacher, Mackenzie Harper, who called for help. 

Among those summoned was Irving High School Clinic Nurse Kala Bauman Martinez, who arrived on scene in less than a minute. In evaluating the situation, she noticed the student had stopped breathing and immediately began administering CPR. She then deployed an automated external defibrillator (AED), with the help of School Resource Officer Michael Le, and the student’s heart began to beat again. The student was then transported to Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Irving.

“The physicians attending to the student at Baylor Irving and later Children’s Hospital stated that the quick action by all of those involved absolutely contributed to the student’s survival,” says Karyn Beauchamp, director of clinic and health services for Irving ISD. “I want to recognize these employees as they continually go above and beyond their call of duty to serve Irving ISD students and staff – and, in this case, are being recognized for saving a student’s life.”

The student has since made a full recovery and returned to school.

“In this setting, it’s not something you typically expect,” says Bauman Martinez, who has also worked in hospitals and assisted living centers in her 10 years in the medical field. “But we were able to come together as a team, working collaboratively with the officers, the teachers, the nurse, the paramedics, the administrators – to get the student the help that they needed.”

While it may not be every day that she saves a life, as a school nurse, Bauman Martinez knows every day she has an opportunity to make a difference. 

“Even if it’s something small like saying ‘good morning’ or helping resuscitate a kid, just knowing I’m making a difference is what keeps me coming back each day,” she says. “And I’m getting to make a difference in the community that I grew up in.”

Bauman Martinez, a 2012 graduate, attended John Haley Elementary School, Lamar Middle School and Nimitz High School, before transferring to Barbara Cardwell Career Preparatory Center.

“As a teen parent in high school, I knew I needed to get serious and plan for a career to support myself and my son,” she says. “I transferred from Nimitz to Barbara Cardwell to do the health science pathway. My goal was to be a pharmacist tech. My senior year they changed the pharmacy tech class into a nursing assistant class. This was my first taste of bedside nursing. I did really well with it, and I ended up becoming a nurse.”

After earning a nursing assistant certification in high school, she secured a job in an assisted living facility before graduating. She then continued her studies at Dallas College El Centro Campus, graduating in 2016 and earning her registered nurse (RN) license the following February – all while working as a patient care technician at a long-term acute care hospital

As an RN of five years, she worked on the surgical renal floor at Methodist Charlton Medical Center in Dallas before joining Team Irving in the 2018-2019 school year. 

“It hasn’t been easy, but it has definitely been worth it to pursue my goals, especially as a teen parent,” she says. “It wasn’t easy – it’s still not easy. But it’s definitely doable.”

In addition to the son who is now 13, Bauman Martinez also has a stepson who is 14 and a younger son who is 3. She credits them for helping her be relatable to the students she helps in the school clinic.

“My kids are close to their age, so I can relate to these high school students in the sense that I have two of them at home, and I know some of the things that they are going through or talk about or relate to,” she says. “It helps the students know, too, that it’s OK for them to come to us and that we’re there for them. We’re always here for them.”

On School Nurse Day, Irving ISD sends a big thank you to Nurse Kala and to all of the school nurses across the district for always being there for our students and staff!