Friday, February 7, 2014

With Pride and Gratitude: Reflections on a Snow Day

     I'm always proud of my school and honored to be its head. Yesterday provided another clear reminder of why. It was another crazy weather day in Dallas. (Side musing: While I don't have exact numbers, I think in the 3-1/2 years I've been head, we've had more weather-related issues than in my previous 27 years in education. Granted, all have been in Louisiana and Dallas, but still...)
     For those of you who've never been on our campus, let me set the scene a bit. It's a bucolic retreat in East Dallas. That is an incredible gift, but it presents certain challenges. We have just one entrance. Since we have 500 students, carpool is a challenge on the best days. Also, the drive snakes around, with one big curve being on the largest of several slopes.To give you an idea of how slick and dangerous it was yesterday, our caterer's truck slid over the curb yesterday soon after the snow started. According to the media, it was unusually wet and heavy snow in a uniquely large weather mass. The road leading to campus has dozens of large trees forming a canopy over it, and there is a slight grade heading north--the direction carpool flows.
     Given all of this, when we decided to release early yesterday, it became a massive challenge. Because of the conditions on campus, we decided it was best to walk the children up to the road and load them in cars there. It was too risky to have that many cars coming on campus. So we had people doing those things that are never part of any job description. Some stood out in the elements for well over an hour, relaying information on which kids were up next. Many people were trekking back and forth up and down the front hill to get kids into cars, holding their hands and carrying backpacks. Inside were people fetching students and keeping them entertained and feeling safe. Our maintenance guys were like machines, and a parent showed up who began clearing ice and told us to holler if we needed the chains in his truck. As the road iced, people were pushing cars to drier spots.
     Was it a perfect system? No, and we'll debrief on how to make it better should we face this again. It took longer than we would have liked. It was rather chaotic at times. But whatever craziness was going on was a direct result of the fact that so many people wanted to pitch in.
     I'm also grateful to our families. As I helped kids into cars, I got loads of smiles and thank you's, even from people towards the end of the line. I didn't receive a single nasty remark or email of complaint even though the situation tested everyone.
     As I drifted off to sleep last night, I found myself thinking about how kids must have felt yesterday. Of course, they were wildly thrilled about the snow, the early dismissal, the thought of another snow day. But I suspect they also saw so many adults doing special things to take care of them. That provides kids with the sense of security and love that lets them learn in a safe environment which fosters confidence. The best schools ultimately are about kids, and yesterday we showed our true worth. I'm proud and grateful.

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