I was in the middle of teaching my AP Psychology class Monday when one of our Assistant Principals stopped by my classroom. Calling me out in the hall to speak with him, he informed me that we were dismissing two hours early today due to the heavy snowfall forecast that afternoon. Our head principal would make the announcement to the student body at the end of the class period, but they wanted to inform the teaching staff and parents of the decision as soon as possible.
I was careful not to mention a word of this to my students upon re-entering my classroom. After all, I had a class to teach, and the mention of getting out of school early would have taken their focus away from the material. No, I'd let them celebrate between class periods, giving them enough time to settle back down while they were traveling to their next class, which would be the last of the day. I had no doubt that every student at my school (along with many adults) would be in a celebratory mood. Even though school was dismissing just two hours early -- school is in session from 7:30 to 2:30 -- It was the makings of a classic "snow day."
I loved snow days when I was a kid. When a big snow was forecast, I remember getting up with my mom and listening to KMOX early in the mornings. And on those mornings when I heard "St. Catherine Laboure is closed today," I jumped for joy, and made plans to get together with my neighborhood friends. These usually included walking to Lindbergh High School and sledding down the giant "L" by their track. Mom would make hot chocolate, and we'd watch cartoons when we were done playing in the snow.
Snow days in high school were a little less fun. I remember being happy to be out of school, but I really couldn't go anywhere (my parents wouldn't let me drive in bad weather) and sledding down the giant "L" had lost its luster. Snow days as an adult are a mixed bag. On one hand, it annoys me to drive in bad weather, lose instructional time in the classroom, and shovel my driveway.
Yet on the other hand, I enjoy the extra time. Today, after making the long trek down Highway 270 from Creve Coeur (where I teach) to Oakville this afternoon, I had to smile when I arrived at home. There to greet me was my wife, my 8-month-old daughter, and two dogs happy to see me get home so early. The day was already getting better.
It was supposed to be a busy day for me after school - I teach a class for Maryville University on Monday afternoons. Plus, I had a district committee meeting to attend later that evening. I told my wife I probably wouldn't be home until 9:30, and to plan to eat dinner without me. I wouldn't have been able to see my daughter either, since she would be in bed long before I got home.
Yet, that all changed now. Maryville had also canceled classes, and my evening meeting was a victim of the snowfall as well. Now, I found myself at home with my wife, daughter and dogs, enjoying life on what turned into a lazy winter afternoon. It reminded me of my favorite line in Ferris Bueller's Day Off: "Life moves a little fast, if you don't slow down and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
It's amazing what getting out of school two hours early does to the course of a day. Not only did it give me the extra time to write my first blog post, it gave me some valuable family time. All of a sudden, snow days are now becoming relevant to me again. Today was my daughter's first big snowstorm and I got to spend the rest of the day with the people that mattered most to me. And that is a gift... a gift that only a snow day can provide.