When I was a kid growing up in Cincinnati, OH in the 1970s we had an amazing amount of snow. Embedded deep within my memory is the voice of my mother opening my door in the morning saying, “Get up! You’ve slept ‘til Christmas!” That was code for “it snowed last night, and school has been cancelled.” My brother and I would leap out of bed, do a celebration dance in our jammies, and begin the plans for the day. First would be a quick breakfast followed by us grabbing the snow shovels and heading to the neighbors’ houses to negotiate the price for shoveling their driveways and walks. After a few hours of this, we would come home frozen and starving and tired but smiling and with our pockets full of dollar bills and the occasional five dollar bill.
When we got home, mom would have homemade doughnuts and hot chocolate ready for us. In my mind, there is nothing better than those doughnuts and hot chocolate. (I called my mom yesterday and told her we were going to have a snow day today, and we reminisced about these very events—such good memories!) After warming up and gorging ourselves on the sweet treats, we would wrap back up with all of our money in hand and walk up to town where there was a dusty old toy shop (the good kind with models and erector sets), a bookstore and a bakery. Somewhere among those shops we would spend every last dime that we made that day and then walk back home with the spoils.
Besides sharing one of my favorite childhood memories, I wanted to use this story as a bit of a metaphor. There is a certain ethos that we try to instill here at ESA that is countercultural to so much of what kids are exposed to every day online or on TV. What kids see a lot of is the last sentence of that story, “we would spend every last dime that we made that day and then walk back home with the spoils.” What we strive to instill in our students is the same dedication, joy and work ethic for learning that my brother and I had for shoveling driveways on those days—it was an opportunity we wouldn’t waste. I see those habits of scholarship developing in our students every day; I hear it when parents tell me their kids can’t wait to get to school; I see it in Chapel as students present meaningful topics to the community or in the pride-filled face of a student who has mastered the material for a test or one who makes an announcement that he found a $20 bill in the quad if someone lost one. To continue the allegory, the parent role in the story is to tell the kids, “Wake up! You have an opportunity!” and then to provide the loving support for the hard work. The satisfaction of work done well was the intrinsic reward that my brother and I felt, but the extrinsic benefits, the opportunities that were opened to us because of the work we did, were compelling to say the least. So, keep up the great work, students, and have an amazing SNOW DAY!