Nurse innovators honored for work helping children with emotional intelligence

March 13, 2023
Brown box on a white background. The boxy has a bee on it that says beeing you.
Brown, bee-themed boxes, dreamed up by a pair of College of Nursing faculty members, contain supplies to help parents and other caregivers make learning fun for kids ages 3 to 6 while building an emotional support foundation.

The MUSC Office of Innovation has recognized the College of Nursing’s Joy A. Lauerer, DNP, and Amy Williams, DNP, as the Winter 2023 recipients of the I am an MUSC Innovator Award. Sponsored by the Office of Innovation, the I am an MUSC Innovator campaign is designed to raise awareness of the many forms that innovation can take, to inspire others and to recognize individuals or teams that are making impacts, publicly. 

Lauerer and Williams are no strangers to recognition for their many contributions to the institution.

Lauerer, an associate professor in the CON, received the Golden Lamp Award an unprecedented four times, chosen by students as the nurse they would most like to emulate as a professional nurse. She received the Palmetto Gold Award in 2014 for excellence in nursing education. In 2016, she received the American Psychiatric Nurses Association Award for Innovation in Education and in 2017 was elected for a three-year appointment as the co-chair of the Child Adolescent Council. 

Williams, an associate professor, holds a governor’s appointment as a trustee for South Carolina First Steps to School Readiness and the Early Childhood Advisory Council. In this role, she fills the only health care provider seat, working alongside members of the South Carolina General Assembly and state agency heads to ensure that all of South Carolina’s children are as prepared for kindergarten as possible through evidenced-based early childhood educational programs. She is the recipient of a Duke Endowment grant to promote school preparedness in the Latin community and the site administrator for Zero to Three’s Healthy Steps initiative in her clinic.

The duo was nominated this quarter for their work with Little Beeings, a social emotional intelligence box for children. 

“Most parents and caregivers lack the resources to help develop and shape children’s emotional and social development,” they explained. 

Two blonde women wearing white shirts and plaid jackets pose with a brick building behind them. 
Amy Williams, left, and Joy Lauerer are the winners of this quarter's I am an MUSC Innovator award for their work on Little Beeings. Photo by Josh Goodwin

“Considering our ongoing changing culture for parents and caregivers that includes, including the rise of the single-parent families, increased exposure to violence, changes in family and caregiver dynamics and overuse of technology, we have seen significant increases in children and families seeking treatment for children’s behavior health problems at an increasingly earlier age.”

The answer to this pain point that the two tackled was to create the Beeing You Box, a fun and interactive subscription-based learning product that offers parents and caregivers resources that foster social emotional development. The box uses a variety of activities, toys and emotional intelligence (EI) games not only to make learning fun but also build an emotional support foundation between the child and his or her caregivers. 

The boxes feature three different levels, with each level roughly based on the age of the child (from 3 to 6). Each is designed to align with where the child is developmentally. As demonstrated by the name, bees play a central theme in the makeup of the items included in the box. 

“Entomology research tells us that bees are among the smartest, most collaborative insects,” said Williams. “We develop an early relationship between children and the outdoor environment/ecosystem through exposure to the cooperative work that naturally takes place between animals.” 

“The key is helping parents better develop their children’s EI. Focusing on strengthening emotional and social skills helps children improve self-awareness and self-confidence, manage their emotions and impulses and build strong positive character qualities,” said Lauerer. “To best do this, parents need to start working on developing their child’s EI in the early preschool years when children are at a sensitive period of social development and benefit greatly from early emotional and social support.”

Each quarter, the Office of Innovation showcases educators, researchers, care team members and service team members enterprisewide who have been nominated for the impact they’ve made in the area of innovation.

Nominations are solicited by and submitted to the chief innovation officer and evaluated based on the merits of the innovation, including potential impact and unique factors that contributed to the innovation. Nominations are solicited on a quarterly basis but may be submitted for consideration at any time.

Do you know someone who should be recognized? Fill out and submit a nomination form.

Award criteria

To be eligible for the I am an MUSC Innovator Award, the individual or team must be:

  • Employed by MUSC or attend MUSC as a student.
  • Acknowledged within the organization for the creation of an idea, product or process that can solve a problem or create a new opportunity.
  • Recognized as collaborative, respectful, adaptive to change and committed to quality care.

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