WESTFORD -- Nashoba Valley Technical High School Health Assisting instructor Vicki Poulin was recently recognized as one of 25 finalists for the March of Dimes' Massachusetts Nurse of the Year.
Poulin, a Lunenburg resident who is in her seventh year teaching at Nashoba Tech, was nominated by her daughter, Melanie, for her work at Nashoba Tech, her part-time job at Sunny Acres Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Chelmsford, and her work helping new mothers learn how to breastfeed.
Hers was one of 120 nominations the March of Dimes received, and Poulin was invited to the awards ceremony at the Verve-Crowne Plaza in Natick in December with the other 24 finalists.
Poulin said Melanie and a co-worker at Sunny Acres "conspired to nominate me" and that is was a surprise.
"I bring Melanie to work at Sunny Acres because she's a very caring person," Poulin said.
A memo went around Sunny Acres that the March of Dimes was seeking nominations for Nurse of the Year, and Melanie and one of Poulin's co-workers decided to nominate Poulin secretly.
"Melanie filled out the form, and I didn't know what was going on," she said.
Poulin took Melanie to the event, where Poulin received a plaque and a pin that reads: "Nurse of the Year finalist."
Melanie's nomination reads: "My mom works hard. She is a teacher and works with kids of all ages in high school. She also has a side business where she teaches teen mothers and mothers of newborns to breastfeed.
Poulin has been working at Sunny Acres part-time for six years as a medication and treatment nurse. Her 46 Health Assisting students at Nashoba Tech also receive hands-on training at Sunny Acres as they work toward their certification as Certified Nursing Assistants, or CNAs.
"They roll up their sleeves and do everything, from feeding patients to giving bed baths to taking them for activities to sitting with them and keeping them company," Poulin said.
Poulin also runs her own business as a certified breastfeeding trainer and has won several awards through the American Journal of Nursing, the Massachusetts Coalition of Breastfeeding and other organizations.
"I really think parenting is so worthwhile, and they need every little chance they can get. That's also why I went into teaching," she said.
Poulin said that although Melanie is her only biological child, "I have 46 kids here at Nashoba Tech."