SALISBURY, MD---Salisbury University is home to one of the top teachers in the United States, according to USA Today. The newspaper named SU adjunct nursing faculty member and alumna Penny Makuchal one of the 39 best educators in America as a member of its 2004 All-USA Teacher Team this month—one of only two from Maryland. A teacher and nurse at the Worcester County Technology and Career Center in Newark, MD, she is also the school nurse consultant for all 14 of Worcester County’s public schools. She has been named the center’s Teacher of the Year several times. Last year she was named Maryland’s School Nurse of the Year and one of four finalists for the national title. The USA Today accolade was unexpected: “I was very surprised and very honored at the same time,” Makuchal said. She earned her Bachelor of Science in nursing from SU in 1991 and returned to earn her Master of Science in nursing and education in 1997. She now teaches school health at the University. Dr. Susan Battistoni, chair of SU’s Nursing Department, commended Makuchal’s efforts: “She was an outstanding student while at SU for her bachelor's and master's degrees and continues to excel in the field of school health nursing.” While Makuchal’s original intent was to work at a hospital, her focus changed after entering the work force. “I’ve always wanted to be a nurse,” she said. “I wanted to be an emergency room nurse, but my first job was in the schools and I’ve loved it ever since.” Since Makuchal began working at the technology and career center 10 years ago, both teaching and nursing gave changed in public schools, she said. With more students with special needs in today’s public school classrooms, school nurses are more essential than ever. Since teaching her first class at SU in 1997, Makuchal has conveyed to her students the importance of nursing in schools. “You have to be healthy to learn and you have to learn to be healthy,” she said. “The importance of health in education is not stressed enough.” Makuchal lives in Stockton, MD, with her husband, Denny, and daughter, Maranda, 3. For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu.