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Making time for fun on snow days

As the word of a snow day spread throughout the greater Parkland area early Thursday morning and again that afternoon, children cheered, parents rumbled and teachers, well teachers were filled with mixed emotions.

After talking to several teachers, the snow day was met with a combination of glee, animosity and thankfulness.

For some, mostly administrators and for many teachers as well, a snow day is not the day off many think educators are blessed with. For many, it is just another day, albeit without as many people around.

“Even though we get a snow day, many still go into work for several hours or work from home,” said Lori Lamb, the principal at Washington-Franklin School Elementary School. “Elementary principals, like teachers, are contracted to a certain number of days. I use days like today to catch up on paperwork. When students and teachers are in session, they are the focus and the priority. So evenings, weekends and the surprise snow days are the times I spend with the paperwork that can’t wait.”

Doing work on a day off, even on a snow day, is nothing new to an educator. There are typically papers to grade, lesson plans to make and emails to write. So, during Thursday’s snow day, many teachers took advantage to catch up on many of those things, but that is not to say there wasn’t time for a little fun as well.

“I organized my Google Drive and put things in my planner,” said Carla Wright Gibbs, a teacher at Farmington Middle School. “But I also colored in my coloring book, did a little laundry, and I did take a nap.”

“I started arranging some music,” said Regina Brown, a music teacher at Farmington Middle School. “But then I had a cup of tea and watched Hulu.”

The one thing different with Thursday’s snow storm was really the timing. For some teachers, Thursday would have been the first day back after Christmas break, so there really wasn’t anything pressing that needed to be handled. As a result, many of them took advantage of having an extra day at home.

“I tried to sleep in, but my 7-year-old joined me at 6:30 a.m. and was ready to play outside then,” said Sarah Buerck, the art instructor at Lincoln Intermediate. “So, I watched my kids play outside, did the laundry, made lunch and watched HGTV while wearing sweats all day.”

Buerck was not the only mom who took advantage of spending the day having fun with their children. From playing outside to sharing come hot chocolate to eating homemade cookies together, family time was a familiar theme.

“We live pretty far out in the country, so we get bundled up and go on a 4×4 ride through the woods, then hot chocolate and cookies when we get back,” said Tanya Thomas, an instructor at St. Paul Lutheran High School. “Then it’s movie time, sometimes here at home or next door at grandma’s house. If there is a ton of snow, then we try some sledding.”

For Julie Klinkhardt, the nurse at Roosevelt Elementary School, and her family the day was spent enjoying some outdoor activities and just hanging out with each other.

“We played in the snow and built a fire,” Klinkhardt said. “Then we played some games, made cotton candy and took a nap. Everything was pretty typical, except the cotton candy.”

Although Dr. Travena Hostetler is an administrator in the Farmington School District – the assistant principal at Lincoln Intermediate – she was able to walk away from her duties for a short time to spend some time with her three children.

“They couldn’t wait to go outside and make snow angels,” Hostetler said. “My daughter has always made snow balls and called them snow apples. The boys do it now too, so we ate snow apples and spent time playing outside.”

As the years pass, many snow day traditions fade away, but for those who are lucky, new ones take their place.

“When my oldest two were little, the neighborhood kids would play in the snow and then come in and have hot chocolate,” said Diane Mays-Nielson, the theater instructor at Farmington High School. “My youngest, Emery, is the only little kid in the neighborhood now. So, in our house, we stay in our jammies all day, read, color, watch movies, play with Play-Doh, and if there is enough snow, play outside for a few minutes.”

“I’m the type that has to stay busy,” said Senior Master Sergeant Ernie Heflin, an Air Force Junior ROTC instructor at the high school. “I have a list of honey do’s I worked on. I sealed the shower tiles and kitchen countertop, cleaned the floor air vents, tightened the kitchen sink hand sprayer and did a load of laundry.”

For those who put stock in the Farmers’ Almanac, there may be more snow days in the near future. According to the publication, the area will see a milder and drier than normal winter, but the chance for the more snow fall is just ahead of us with snow falling in mid-January and early February. So put your pajamas on inside out and place a spoon under your pillow, then, just maybe, teachers and students will get another day.

Enjoying her snow day, Julie Klinkhardt, a school nurse at Roosevelt Elementary School, spends some time playing in the snow with her children on Thursday. 

Enjoying her snow day, Julie Klinkhardt, a school nurse at Roosevelt Elementary School, spends some time playing in the snow with her children on Thursday. 

As a result of snow and slick streets, most schools in the Parkland area were forced to cancel class on Thursday. Cancelling class on Thursday left Truman Learning Center, pictured, empty.  

As a result of snow and slick streets, most schools in the Parkland area were forced to cancel class on Thursday. Cancelling class on Thursday left Truman Learning Center, pictured, empty.  

Craig Vaughn is a reporter for the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3629 or at cvaughn@farmingtonpressonline.com

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