No School

Dewey, Lortie, & Deal
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No School

Postby HeatherLyke » Tue Feb 02, 2016 2:51 pm

I'm typing this on a snow day. Although I hate all of the work that waits for me on my desk when we have snow days, I still love them. I may love them more as an adult than I ever did as a student. I know it means lost student learning, but being safe is more important. Right? Nevertheless, no matter how much I love these magical weather days where suddenly I have an extra 8 hours in my day to sleep, nap, quilt, read, workout, or do whatever else I choose--I am extremely glad that I am not the one who has to make the call. I am even more grateful that I never plan to be in a position where I would ever have to make such a choice.

That said, even though it rarely has to do with snow, ice, or cold, principals do from time to time need to make the call to close school. I recall two times in my teaching career when the building principal, together with District leaders, made the decision to call off school in just our building. The first time was when a transformer exploded due to a curious squirrel, leaving John Marshall with no power for days. (It happened right outside of my classroom window--we heard a sudden, loud, popping noise and then a few us turned just in time to watch a fried squirrel go flying!) The second time was when a water main broke near John Marshall, rendering the building with no running water. Both times, even though extremely justified, Mrs. Ilstrup had to deal with a lot of push back from some parents and community members. I understand that closing school unexpectedly is never ideal (especially with young students who then need childcare), but it is sometimes necessary. Of course, there are also those times when it is decided to keeps schools open and students/staff/parents/community members feel they should be closed: these choices and conversations can be just as difficult.

Truth be told, should I ever find myself in a position where I have the responsibility to close (or not close) a building, I am not sure how I would best handle frustrated students/staff/parents/community members who believe I acted incorrectly. Maybe I would treat them the same way I tread teachers today who do not like the choices Curriculum and Instruction makes but that I must adhere to: I listen to their frustrations, I acknowledge their concerns, and then I explain why the decision was made. (I do know one thing for sure--I would stay off of social media: this online climate where people often feel as if they are shouting into a void rather than writing words seen by others leads to posts where too often the phrasing is crass, unprofessional, and/or hurtful.)

Additionally, as a principal, you often have to deal with those upset by school closings (or lack there of) even when it was not your decision to make. I recall a conversation I had with current John Marshall principal, Tim Limberg, who shared with me that he often has to field parent calls or meet with students who are upset about the fact that school was canceled (or not). Despite the fact that he had not been the one to make the call, he lost time that could have been otherwise used to more directly impact his students.

So, no matter how much I enjoy a good snow day, I will add this potential decision-making to the list of things I won't look forward to, should I ever choose to become a principal.
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Dave Pugh
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Re: No School

Postby Dave Pugh » Mon Feb 08, 2016 4:53 pm

I remember Rocky! Sacrificed himself for 2 days of no school. God bless his soul.

I would be TERRIBLE at this, as I am not much of a risk taker where safety is concerned. OK, I have a short finger because I didn't use the safety blade guard on my saw, but other than that . . .

I figure even a small odd that a student or staff member would be seriously injured or killed in an accident would make me close school. I realize that means almost any day, since accidents can happen any time. What is the amount of snow or ice to tip the scale? I don't ever want to be the person deciding that.

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