Monday, February 2, 2015

Groundhog Day: It really is a nightmare

Today is Groundhog Day.

I'm starting to think I'm Bill Murray and living his 1993 movie - Groundhog Day. The teaser for the movie states that Phil (Murray's character) is trapped in a personal time warp, living his worst day over and over.

On January 8, 2015, I kept the schools in my community of Novi open. Students were not happy. Students took to Twitter to express their unhappiness. Some were quite unhappy.

Today - Groundhog Day - I find myself in the same position. 

Yesterday Novi received over 13 inches of snow. We closed school today - Groundhog Day. But tomorrow - well let's just say the students are expressing their hopes and fears on Twitter.

@: everyone pray for @docsmatthews to make the right decision and give us one more day off๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™

@: @docsmatthews it's colder than my heart and more barren than my soul and I think that points to another snow day

@: @docsmatthews Farmington, Livonia, Troy, International Academy, Walled Lake, and Rochester all closed..isn't this enough?

@: @docsmatthews you're on the clock #BelieveInSteve 

You have to love the passion of high school students!

Even though my high school students, and some of their parents, may not believe it, I really am concerned about their safety. I don't want them to be put at risk. I monitor the roads and weather. My Assistant Superintendent of Business and Operations and I talk frequently about what we should do. We talk to the city of Novi's Department of Public Works.

Contrary to the opinion of our high school students - I really do care about their safety.

But I also happen to believe that being in school is important.

I know that our students could find information on the Internet. I know that one missed day of school - or in this case two missed days - would not be the end of the world.

But being in school makes a difference. I believe that the community of school provides context and texture for students that they cannot find in other places. 

I believe that the rhythm of school needs to be nurtured. Stopping and starting over and over again creates dissonance. The powerful symphony that can be created through the sharing of different voices within one space cannot be nurtured if we disrupt the rhythm of learning.

I believe that teachers help students every day. Trust is built between students and teachers when they are together. Teachers learn to see things, recognize moods, capitalize on learning opportunities. But those things cannot be developed without being together.

I know that it is possible to create a virtual community that can do some of these things. We are not yet there in Novi. 

Someday maybe, but not on this Groundhog Day.

So tonight at 9:00 PM, my Assistant Superintendent and several other area Superintendents will once again be on the phone having another conversation about what to do tomorrow.

Some will decide to close. Others will decide to stay open. 

All of us will make the best decision we can for the students and the parents in our community. 

And my Groundhog Day will continue.


  1. Please, dr.matthews... I understand that u want us to go to school, but please. just one more day. We don't get this opportunity too often, and we're allowed up to 5 snow days (which I can assure u, we won't reach). Just one more day.....

  2. My neighborhood is covered in snow, it will take me 15 minutes to walk to the bus stop tomorrow, and it will be difficult for the buses to get through, so that will be more time waiting outside if we do have school.

  3. tl;dr still making a decision

  4. Thanks for your honesty! So thankful for you and your leadership.

    please add us to this list!!

  6. Doc, I can't even walk outside in boots without windmilling my arms every third step. The tires on my mom's ten year old car are considerably less stable than my new boots.

  7. Sir, we respect your decision either way but there is value in the emotional well being that is often triggered by the announcement of a snow day!

  8. Given that our local rival, Northville, is planning to keep students home on Tuesday, the lack of a snow day may have a drastically negative impact on our student body's self identity of NPS vs Northville. Sir, with all due respect, perception is everything:)

  9. Dear Sir: If you have yet to hear, an awesome little 7th grader broke his leg this weekend playing basketball for the Novi Cats. The mounds of snow will make his commute to school oh so difficult...its almost too much to bare! Please Dr. Matthews, keep the kids it for Gavin!!!

    1. Is this email a joke? Really? Lol!

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  11. the joy just heard across the neighborhood was awesome!!! Thanks Dr. Matthews...and who's this Gavin kid?

  12. We appreciate your tenacity and sincerity. We are incredibly thankful for your leadership. So please know that parents like us completely trust your decision and believe you are care for the safety of our children whether you announce a snow day or not!!

  13. As a teacher myself in South Redford, I would not have minded a day off with my kids in school in Novi....but I support your decision. You are an amazing leader and I shared your lessons with my English students back in January. They quickly looked up your twitter and were cracking up when a kid asked to have no school when the Lions lost and you quickly responded with that they will do better in school with friends to cure their sadness.

  14. As a parent of a Novi student, I appreciate the decisions that Dr. Matthews has made thus far. Dr. Matthews takes into consideration not only the safety of the students, but also the safety of all staff. When students aren't in school, they get out of their routine and can sometimes be hard to get back into the groove, especially the younger students. Having a high schooler, instructional staff, at times, don't give any breaks for being out of school so students need to be in school as much as they can. Do what you gotta do Dr. Matthews! I got your back! :)