Katie Rutkowski is not a teacher, but one student credits her for helping him be able to go to school. Rutkowski was working at BASIS Primary as a teaching fellow (teacher aide) in a second grade classroom, when the school needed a new heath aide. Rutkowski was a trained medical assistant, so she found herself in a new role at the school—one she has held for four years.

“I love all of my students...I call them my kids,” says Rutkowski. “This is what I was born to do.”

One student is especially grateful to be one of Rutkowski’s “kids.” Kellen credits her for allowing him to go to school.

“I was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes one year ago,” writes Kellen. “(Rutkowski) came to the hospital to learn how to keep me safe. She checks my blood sugar, gives me shots and is my advocate. Without her I would not be able to attend school. She is also my friend,” he adds. 

Kellen notes, “She doesn’t have to do all this for me, but does because she is amazing.”

Rutkowski is part of a team that monitors his health at school—she, Kellen, his teacher and his parents all keep in touch. “We all talk via text,” she says.

She also has two apps on her phone that allow her to monitor Kellen’s blood sugar (along with his parents), and tutorials on how to do insulin injections. 

Rutkowski learned about insulin pens, counting carbs and more when she attended a training at UMC with Kellen’s family. She says that replacing his PDM pod (personal data monitor) takes about 30 minutes from start to finish. This is not an everyday task, though. The PDM pod only needs to be replaced when it malfunctions, which can happen from too much static or when it gets knocked against something.

While Kellen was her first student with type 1 diabetes, this year she has two others at school, Rutkowski says. 

Rutkowski has two children, a son and a daughter, and she likes to spend her free time running around with them. 

“We really like to go hiking and go to museums,” she says. She and her family enjoy visiting the Mini-Time Machine Museum, she says, and going to the movies. Earlier this month, Rutkowski and her kids joined Kellen and his family at the JDRF One Walk to raise money and awareness about type 1 diabetes.   

Fun Facts:

  • Hidden Talent: “I’m actually really good at rollerblading,” says Rutkowski.
  • Favorite Subjects in School: English and history
  • Favorite Summer Movie: “Despicable Me 3”

 

Edition: 
Tucson
Issue: 
October 2017