School Leadership: It’s More Than Snow Days

ImageIt’s not just snow days.

School leadership, I mean.

Though the vast majority of a school leader’s calls and emails and tweets come on days like today, days where you try to gather as much information as you possibly can and make a decision that is in the best interest of student and staff safety. Days where you are up at 4:30 a.m., texting your colleagues, calling your maintenance staff and city road crews and police departments. Days where your car is the only one in the parking lot and you answer the door for parents who—for whatever reason—didn’t get the message that we are closed. Days where the value the community places on your ability to lead the schools is based on your reading a weather forecast and making a decision that may just as well have been a coin flip.

And you are grateful for the people who email you on days like today, and tell you that they don’t envy your job and can empathize with how tough it must be to be a school leader on a day like this. And you get irritated by those who email and tell you what a fool you are.

But you want the truth? Snow days are among the easiest problems we deal with.

School leadership is much more than snow days.

School leadership is this past week, when we worked with a family whose daughter is fighting an eating disorder.

School leadership is this past week, when we worked with a family battling alcoholism.

School leadership is this past week, when we worked with a family who can’t afford to pay their school fees because the father was laid off from his job.

School leadership is this past month, when we worked with a family who mother went to prison and the children had no place to stay.

School leadership is when staff members lose parents and spouses and children to disease and accident and suicide.

School leadership is when daily decisions made for the betterment of the community are attacked by fringe residents with personal agendas.

School leadership is encouraging staff to work with the kids who nobody wants to work with, the disadvantaged and disruptive and challenging, because school leaders know the only future for these kids are the skills we give them in the 13 years they are with us.

School leadership is service to others. Period.

And making decisions about snow days? Comparatively, that’s easy.


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