Saturday, February 19, 2005

almost as good as a snow day

when i first started this school year at a new school, i spent many hours getting acquainted w/ the students. i told them right up front that i couldn't wait for snow and some snow days. they laughed and assured me that i would love working at their school because they always took lots of snow days. this wasn't unbelievable because it was a small rural school that wouldn't be able to run buses on country roads that were too dangerous or would put kids in danger if they had bus trouble or a wreck. teaching in missouri also has some different considerations because the validity of a school day depends upon whether 50% of the student body is present or not. if not, the school day doesn't count even if we had it. administrators are more willing to call off school if the weather is bad rather than risk going to school on a day that doesn't even count.

as winter approached, i was as bad as the students in wanting/praying for a snow day. i watched the weather regularly, hoping for those winter storm fronts moving through and dumping mountains of snow on us or blessing us w/ icy roads. i did the appropriate dances, made the appropriate offerings and prayed to the snow gods, but no luck. there was no snow and no snow days for us. now other schools near us had snow and took snow days, but the weather just seemed to stop about 10 miles from school. just like the snow gods were taunting me with their power. the bad thing was that the schools all around where i lived were out, but i still had to drive down to my school where the weather was fine. big sigh -- no free days off from school.

yeah, i know -- they're not really free as we have to make them up, but they're free in that i'm off work and i don't have to take a personal day or a sick day to get it! well, we were all the way through january and part way through february without any snow days. in fact, i realized that we probably weren't going to get any snow days this year, either. that was so disappointing, too. i was even mouthing my students about how they had misled me by saying "oh, you'll love it here. we have lots of snow days!" they were defending themselves with comments like "well, we always have lots of snow days before!" unfortunately, that wasn't helping me any on getting snow days this year!

i was still lamenting the fact that we hadn't had any snow days to almost everyone that i knew when the weather turned nice last tuesday. the weather was 75 degrees, the sun was shining, and there was just a little breeze. when i went into my friend's room for lunch, i realized how absolutely beautiful the day was. i stood in front of the window, feeling the heat of the sun shining on my face. i told her how happy i was to have my room on the north side of the building because i didn't think i could deal with having the sun shining in all the time. mostly because i tend to get a terminal case of spring fever. i usually feel it coming on, and sometimes i even fight it -- but i usually can't master the disease. what's even worse is that while i was standing there with the sun shining warmth down on my face, i could hear the sound of the trucks on the highway in front of the school. another horrible symtom associated with spring fever struck me with such force i was almost knocked off of my feet -- wanderlust.

the combination of spring fever and wanderlust are definitely a bad combination, making want to just load up in my car and take off for destinations unknown. throwing financial planning/caution to the wind and just taking off and leaving all of my responsibilities behind. the call of the road is very strong most of the time, but the most tempting in the spring in conjunction with the terminal cases of spring fever. standing there at the window, i knew i was heading into trouble with these maladies. i only had 1 personal day and 4.5 sick days left!

while i was standing at the window, soaking up the sun, my co-worker and i heard the students cheering. we could hear the principal's voice on the microphone system, but we couldn't hear what he was saying. whatever it was, the students were really happy with the news. just a couple minutes later, we heard students in the hallway at their lockers. this is a definitely no-no during lunch time as students aren't allowed to leave the lunchroom/commons area during lunch. from the amount of lockers slamming, lots of students were in the hallway. we went out to see what was happening, and the students explained it to us -- the school was being evacuated due to a gas leak. the city had maintenance crews working to replace the water lines in front of the school. the backhoe had hit the gas main line, and natural gas was leaking into the grade school and the middle school. the high school wasn't having any problem, but if school was dismissed then all of the schools would be dismissed. the students and teachers were evacuated from all the building as soon as possible, and school was to be dismissed at 12:30. there had to be some time to call in the bus drivers, alert the media, call the local daycares, and notify as many parents as possible. plus, by holding school until 12:30 would mean that this would count as a full day of school. we wouldn't have to make up any time because of this absence.

by 1 pm, i was on my way home with nothing special to do other than enjoy my time off. it was fantastic! the 45 minute commute was wonderful, the warm sunshine on my skin through the window. all i could think of was getting home, changing clothes, and going outside. i planned to take raven outside and play kickball and run around the yard in the sunshine. having the afternoon off was just the balm that my soul needed. it didn't cure the spring fever and the wanderlust, but it helped to soothe the symptoms for the time being.

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