Thursday, February 6, 2014

Virginia Snow Days

Teaching in Utah and Virginia have been two totally different experiences in so many ways. 
Besides teaching two totally different grades, 
1st and Kindergarten, 
there are so many other differences....

Utah                                                                                    Virginia
-Utah uses the common core.                                           -Virginia uses the VA state standards.
-Food is allowed in the classroom.                                   -Due to allergies, there is a no food policy.
-Allowed to celebrate holidays- Christmas talking           -Due to the diversity of cultures, we did a 
about Santa and having a "Halloween" party.                   "Holidays are the World," unit and had a 
-Majority of white students with a small handful of         "Fall Harvest" party to be politically correct.
diversity.                                                                             -The white students are the minority, with            
-2-3 teachers per grade level.                                             Indian, Asian, Hispanic students being the   
-1 principal                                                                         majority.
                                                                                            -7-8 teachers per grade level.
                                                                                            -3 principals                                                 

But the biggest difference of all that I still can't wrap my mind around is......

the snow days.

Out west, the snow is normal and people are used to it. I grew up in Idaho and we had maybe one snow day a year. Last year when I taught in Utah, we had zero snow days. Even on the worst of days, where you thought you might die on your way to school.....we didn't have a snow day. I remember in high school one time, it was so cold, that we could see our breath in the school. The temperature was in the negatives and the school was being remodeled so it was letting unwanted air in from all the gaps in the installation. Everyone was bundled up, even in class, with scarfs and hats. It was completely ridiculous. But did they cancel school? No! They didn't even think about it for a second. Life goes on like normal and people are expected to push on through their normal daily routines.

Last year when I was teaching in Sandy, UT, we didn't have a garage, so parking our can out on the road was inevitable. There would be some mornings where it would take Nate and I literally 30 minutes to shovel our car out and get it ready to drive. The snow would be 2 feet deep or more. Then when I finally started backing out of my driveway, I would get stuck in the snow and have to have the neighbor and Nate push me out. As I drove down the road, only a 5 minute drive to school, I had to go down lots of hills. There would be days where I would be sliding and completely out of control, praying and hoping that I wouldn't crash into anything. Some days I would purposefully drive so slow that I wouldn't even touch the gas pedal, but just let my car coast at 10 mph down the road. Insane. January and February were the death of me last year!

So you can imagine how amazed, shocked and blown away I was coming to VA. They take their snow days seriously and they really care about their teachers, students, and parents, driving to school and making sure that they are safe. 

Today is another snow day. It is snow day #9 to be exact. No, that wasn't a typo, we have had 9 snow days so far this year! It is incredible! The best feeling in the world is waking up for school, checking my phone, and hearing the voicemail about the cancellation. The man's voice is like an angel speaking when he says, "Loudoun County Schools are closed today because of the weather." Or  it was even better when he said on a Wednesday, "Loudoun County Schools will be closed for the rest of the week because of the weather." We had a snow week. It was music to my ears....and so relaxing to be able to go back to sleep knowing that you don't have the stress of the school day ahead of you.

Now what is still shocking to me is "the weather" that they are talking about. Ya, I know I am a west coast girl and so I see things in a different light. I know in the west they have the appropriate snow plows and procedures to keep the roads safe and here they don't. So I get it. But here are some pictures of "the weather" that they cancel for.

Here was today. No snow. But lots of rain and icy roads. 
 Another snow day. Just a small amount of snow.
 Here was the worst case snow day that we had. It looks pretty snowy in the picture, but still, there was only 2-4 inches out there. 
 Here is when they cancelled for 1 inch of snow.

Now, I am not complaining. I absolutely love the snow days! I feel like as a teacher, I need them sometimes to keep my sanity and have a break to relax and get some things done around the house that I have been my laundry this morning that was piled up so high and falling over onto the floor. But you can see how it is crazy and almost laughable to me. This type of weather wouldn't even cause an ounce of hesitation in the west. The Utah and Idaho people would think this was completely insane to cancel school over such a small amount of snow and ice. But I love it and am grateful for the days that I have off.

When I tell people from out of state about the snow days, they usually comment something like, "Ya, you have school off now, but just wait until the summer when you are making the days up! That's gonna suck!," like they obviously know how my county all the way over in VA is run or something. Well, the truth is, we don't have to make any days up in the summer. Each school day is 30 minutes longer than a normal school day, so the snow days are built in. We have 15 snow days built into the school calendar. So, what does suck about it is if we don't use them, we lose them. We would end up going to school extra. I think it is a pretty good system that they have set up. I would rather go to school with safe weather and roads.

So, there is my story about the snow days here in VA. I absolutely love them and see it as a major perk to teaching here. I used to hate the snow with a passion, and dreaded every time I saw snow in the forecast. Now, having snow in the forecast is a major bonus and I love it! I will tell Nate, "Guess what!? It is supposed to snow this week!!!" I've never felt that way before.

Here's to more snow and ice this winter and using our 15 allotted snow days! :)

1 comment:

  1. I still can't get over how many snow days you've had! But that is great that you don't have to make them up in the summer!