An interview with Candice Esola, RV’s Educational Services Professional of the Year

The Holly Spirit chats with Nurse Esola during these unprecedented times


Photo courtesy of Dr. Maniglia

Ms. Candice Esola wins RV’s Educational Professional of the Year

Maham Zulfiqar and Monica Mulhern

On Tuesday, December 1, Candice Esola, one of RV’s nurses, was selected as the RV Educational Services Professional of the Year. Esola is much admired in the Rancocas Valley community, having been praised by colleagues and parents alike for her hard work and dedication.

“In reading her nominations, it is clear that the school community feels that Mrs. Esola cares for every RV student with compassion,” RV Principal Joseph Martin said. “I believe she is a person who consistently goes above and beyond to ensure the health and safety of students and staff.” 

“Ms. Esola has committed herself to RV and maintaining our health and safety,” Superintendent Christopher Heilig said. “Ms. Esola’s work as a health professional, trained contact tracer and RV liaison to the Burlington County Department of Health has been a 24/7 duty. She places RV at the top of her priority list day in and day out to ensure our safety. We are grateful for Ms. Esola and all of our District Health Professionals.“

The Holly Spirit interviewed the RN on receiving this great honor.

Note: This transcription has been edited and condensed for clarity.


Holly Spirit: First off, congratulations for getting the Professional of the Year. What was your initial reaction to getting it and what does getting Professional of the Year mean to you?

Esola: I was honestly shocked, wasn’t expecting it at all. I was humbled, completely honored and extremely surprised. I guess it represents my dedication and hard work at RV; how much I love it, how much I put into it and want to put into it for the students, the staff and the community. It meant a great deal to me because I honestly put all my effort into doing what I can to keep us and the community safe, especially in this trying and unprecedented time.


HS: What inspired you to be a nurse at RV?

Esola: So, to be honest, when I went into school nursing, it was something I decided to do because I wanted to go down from the hospital because I had little girls at the time and I ended up falling in love with it. Before RV, I was a high school nurse at the Burlington County Alternative High School and I was the first school nurse they ever had. I actually created the office for school nursing from the ground-up there myself. While I was there, that was how I came about finding RV, and when Mrs. Bacon was retiring, this position was brought up to me to see if I wanted to interview for it. So I tried out and ended up getting the position.


HS: Nice! So besides the pandemic, what challenges have you encountered while working at RV?

Esola: I would say the most challenging thing for me is wanting to give more, even though I can’t. You always want to help on another level, but sometimes, you can only do what you can do. So that’s the most challenging thing, that and not having enough time in the day. There’s not a time in the day where I didn’t wish I had more time. You deal with families and you listen to them and you just want to do so much more for the community and it’s a struggle to balance it. It’s almost like I’m a second mother, like students will come in and want to connect with you, they trust you and you’re their comfort. Other staff members are incredible; RV has an amazing staff, there is just a struggle with finding ways to give back. I would think of more ways to help, but I cannot really seem to give enough regardless. So, the challenges are being able to find ways to do more for students and balancing because there is only so much time in the school day and even after school hours.


HS: How has the pandemic affected your life outside of school?

Esola: I have been affected just as much as anybody else. It saddens me, to be honest. There’s times where I’m sad and other times where I’m hopeful. It’s easier to understand it as a nurse, being able to take a virus apart with the DNA stands, but it catches up to you. When we were all locked up in our houses, I couldn’t go to work, but I love to go to work. I’m a very active person, and with the pandemic, I was scared and overwhelmed. It is an emotional rollercoaster.


Holly Spirit: . How about now, can you describe a typical work day for you in the pandemic?

Esola: A typical day is really just me keeping my eyes and ears open at all times. I continuously follow the CDC guidelines and what the Burlington County Health Department says. I stay up to date on the new pipelines as far as statistics are going, like about how the virus is spreading, what it looks like today and the numbers. I collect this information constantly and since it is novel and nobody has ever seen a virus like this before, there are so many new things coming out about it. I also do contact tracing, ensure guidelines are being followed by students and know that everyone is educated. I even made videos in the beginning of the year about safety, so at this point, it is just about safety. It’s a tremendous amount of work, but that’s how I give back as of right now. I love doing it and our school is doing well right now, so I’m proud of it.


HS: What do you see for the future of RV?

Esola: When we get back to our RV family, it’s going to be completely different. The pandemic has affected people in so many ways, but despite the hardship it put us through, we are strong. We are going to come back, it’s going to take time, probably around a year now that the vaccine is coming out. The future is going to make people come together as a community and realize how important it is that we overcome the pandemic together. 


HS: Is there anything you want to tell to the RV community?

Esola: I just want to say thank you to everyone. We, [the staff], have gotten so much support from the community and the school and the amount of love and support is immense. We are a family and we need to hang in there, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, as long as we follow the guidelines, we will get through this. We are stronger together.