As a Superintendent in a smaller-sized district, I enjoy the privilege of getting to know a few students on a more personal level than perhaps those Superintendents who work in larger districts (part of the reason why I love where I work!). As a result, when the snow falls, but it is not enough to warrant a snow day, I take a fair amount of good-humored back and forth kidding from some students if I happen to be in the buildings that day. Tuesday, January 12, was one of those days. When I saw that the storm missed Newaygo County and over 200 schools were closed by the time we decided to stay open, I readied myself for the usual jokes, questions, and comments of a disappointed nature from students who were saddened that they had school that day and no snow day.
Here’s how one encounter went:
Student (in the high school): Where is Dr. Mathis? I need to talk to her!
Me (about an hour after school started): Hey, I heard you were looking for me this morning.
Student: Why am I in school today? (Insert indignant face emoji here.)
Me: Because you need to get an education to get smarter.
Student: My head is big enough already! (Obviously this student has no problem with self-confidence!)
Here’s another encounter that occurred at one of the elementary schools:
Student: Hey Ms. Mathis, my Dad and Uncle Duane were going to spin out in your driveway this morning (apparently to try to convince me to cancel school).
Me: Wow, really?
Student: Yes, and we thought about spraying a hose on your house so you’d think it was all iced over! (This student knows me well enough to joke around with me and he had a huge grin on his face.)
I take these decisions very seriously because the safety of our students is my top priority. Perhaps my point here is that even under tense circumstances when decisions need to be made with snow days or cancelling school events, NPS students can feel comfortable enough to share their opinion(s) with me. They can also learn that even though things don’t always turn out as they had hoped, honest (and sometimes jovial) give and take conversations can be productive.
We have several more weeks of winter and you can be assured that we will work to make decisions to keep students safe. Parents can help us by remembering to take it slow when driving, using caution around our buses loading and unloading students, and that patience is essential!