Written by: Jennifer Appel
Based on the stories told by: Paul Dowdy
During the winter we'd occasionally have extreme cold and snowy mornings. On one icy morning, the wind chill temperature was 20 below freezing and thus the school district decided to cancel school.
As the principal, my dad always made a COMMITMENT to be at school even if the schools were closed. On this particular day he arrived at about 6:30am to make sure everything was ok with the school and so he could greet any school employees or parents in case they had missed the announcement [this was long before the internet...when you had to listen to the radio to hear about delays and closures]. In an Award Winning Culture you you make a COMMITMENT to serve your school community even when the school day has been cancelled. This form of altruism can help provide an igloo of safety in the harsh reality of a frozen campus.
Whenever school was cancelled, he would go outside prior to the bell ringing for school to begin and walk the outside perimeter of the school to check and see if any students were arriving who may have missed the announcement about school being cancelled. On this particular morning it was so cold that he had several layers of clothes, a hat, gloves and warm boots.
He always started at the front door to check if parents were dropping their kids off and then moved to the side of the building where the older students would be gathering. He then moved to the side of the building where the lower grades would be waiting for their door to open.
As he came around the corner by the 2nd grade doors he noticed a large pile of leaves up against one of the 2nd grade teacher’s door. It seemed rather unusual because there was no wind to blow them against the door and it was the only area that had leaves.
He decided he should probably check it out just in case. As he approached the pile of leaves he could see a small pant leg sticking out of the leaves. He quickly approached the leaves, brushed them away and discovered a small second grade boy who had covered himself with leaves to keep warm. Due to the below zero wind chill that day, the tiny frail boy would have been in serious danger had my dad not discovered him. He quickly grabbed the little boy and hurried to find the closest door to get him inside. He was lucky that the little boy wasn’t outside very long, but he was still cold to the bones. My father made him some hot cocoa and got him a blanket to warm up while he called his parents to come and pick him up.
How long might the boy have stayed clinging to warmth under the leaf pile had my dad no been committed to ensuring student safety?
Award Winning Cultures makes a COMMITMENT to the students, staff and community even on snow days.
Do you always check the perimeter of your school on a snow day?
How can you make sure all of your students are safe when they are at school?
How might you demonstrate commitment to your school community...even on a day off?
About the Authors
Jennifer Appel is a teacher at Enterprise Middle School. She has been teaching for 20 years. Her passion for education comes from growing up in at education driven family (4th generation) and wanting to help and serve others. She is now driven to create an environment where all students are able to learn and become passionate about serving others. Jennifer can be contacted through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow her on twitter at @jennifermappel. Follow AWC @awculture on instagram @awardwinningculture. Follow Wildcat Nation on instagram @emsleadership. #WildcatNation #AwardWinningCulture
Paul Dowdy is a retired elementary school teacher and principal. Paul was in education for more than 40 years. Paul created cultures of excellence at every school he taught at or lead. Paul was also an adjunct professor at 3 different universities in the state of Washington and a regional director for Heritage University. Paul has shared his stories all around the state of Washington in the form of presentations. He's passionate about children and that reflected in all of his work as a reading specialist and his study of the brain and how that drives instruction. Paul is not on social media...but can be reached near any body of water that's conducive to shadow casting! #FlyFishing
Award Winning Culture was created by Hans and Jennifer Appel with the sole purpose of creating an educational mindset of Positive INTENTIONALITY and ACTION; with a daily mantra to make our sphere of influence stronger through Character, Excellence, and Community. Part of AWC's mission is to highlight outstanding educators, companies, and resources that support an Award Winning Culture. Both Jennifer and Hans work at Enterprise Middle School aka Wildcat Nation. Wildcat Nation received the 2018 ASCD Whole Child Award in Washington, for its award winning culture and the 2018 Global "Class Act Award" for Kindness.