Remarkable Women: Kelly Wagner’s passion for service paved career paths with a mission to help others


(WJHL)- Service is normally a word that describes an action in which only one party receives something.

A Tri-Cities Remarkable Woman Finalist gives of herself, in every facet of her life. She is guided by love, and the drive to inspire others.

Service, faith, and filling a need. Kelly Wagner has always seemed to land in a place where she has done all of these.

Kelly’s love for helping people has led her down many career paths. A registered nurse, her journey has taken her from the Health Department to teaching in high school forming life-long bonds with her students.

Her lessons branched out to service, teaching her students how to give back. Her classes would volunteer for Ronald McDonald House, work with seniors at Gray Community Chest setting up Christmas lunch and lending a hand with special education events. Those relationships extend beyond the classroom.

“It is very rewarding,” she says. “And, it doesn’t matter how big they get, if they’re parents themselves, they’re going to be my kids.”

After years in the classroom, Wagner says she was led to another position, the CSH Coordinator for Washington County Schools. She is in charge of 20 nurses who provide care in schools, and she says it’s more than treating a headache.

“A lot of people think, school health: It’s band-aids, it’s stomach aches, it’s ice packs. But, it’s so much more,” she says. “You want to make certain that the kids know there is someone there that loves on them, that sees them for who they are right now and sees them for who they are going to be.”

Kelly was also part of a team that spearheaded a campaign to get water bottle refill stations in every school in her district.

“We’re encouraging students to drink more water. It’s healthier, trying to get away from sugary drinks, they’re all carrying their water bottles to school, so if you have a water bottle refill station, it’s just easier for them to use, and they think its kind of nice,” she says.

While Kelly’s love for her career path grew, she had some challenges having a family of her own.

“I didn’t really understand why, you know, God has given me this love for kids, but yet I don’t get to be a mom,” she says.

So, Kelly and her husband started fostering children.

She says, “we thought, well, why not do this, you know? There are all kinds of people who need homes. We’re willing to love anyone, and it’s easy for us to love. It doesn’t have to be someone that’s blood-related, or we gave birth to. It’s just easy to love on people.”

The Wagner’s eventually added to Kelly’s two stepchildren and adopted twin girls.

“If God would have given me what I wanted when I wanted it, I would have had one. But, he gave me two. So, he knows what he’s doing. His timing is always perfect.”

They didn’t stop there. Kelly and her husband returned to fostering after adopting their twins.

While Kelly Wagner’s love of people, passion for service, and talent to inspire others help make her a Remarkable Woman, she disagrees.

“I don’t look at it as anything I do,” she says. “It’s just part of who I am, and I don’t know how I would act any other way.”

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