MAKING THE GRADE: Winter weather and other disruptions

By Daily News • Last Updated 11:32 am on Thursday, January 09, 2014

Making the Grade | Janet Ralph

I am writing this column while my outside thermometer reads minus 8 degrees and although the sun is shining, I can see lots of snow outside my window. I am snug inside taking care of putting away Christmas decorations and generally tidying up the house. I actually love January weather because I have the luxury of staying indoors. Although I am getting some cleaning done, my first choice would be to curl up with a book and savor the quiet day.

But recent memos from our school superintendent Peter Haines remind me that not everyone is so fortunate. There are many people who are still doing their regular duties like delivering my mail and checking out my purchases or delivering supplies to local businesses. Some are busy digging out and braving the cold to be sure we have access to services such as medical care that we may need or want. Others are working long hours clearing snow from the roads or walkways so the rest of us can get safely to the places where we need or choose to go. Blowing and drifting snow are very bad, especially on our secondary roads. Wind chill is a factor too.

We take so much for granted. Although this may be their responsibility, they nevertheless deserve our appreciation and thanks.

For example, while many were enjoying a holiday break from school and many of us were assuming everyone was on vacation, there were people making preparations to be ready to re-open school this past Monday morning.  That was no small task, as remnants of the ice storm created a real mess that school crews spent much of last week clearing.

Then, sometime Saturday night, a pipe froze and burst at Walnut Hills, flooding several classrooms.  The problem was detected early Sunday morning by a teacher who was in her classroom eager to prepare for students on Monday. This impacted several classrooms and the hallway between. Ron Hofmann, Director of Facilities, his crew, and Brad’s Cleaners spent much time putting things back in order.  The superintendent reported that “they have really worked a miracle. There were literally a couple of inches of standing water on the north end of the building and they have it nearly dry, with almost no loss of materials and no equipment damage.  Our own staff did the heavy lifting and responded in minutes to get the water out of the new and old carpet.  In doing so, they’ve probably saved us thousands of dollars in repairs.”

Parenthetically, I have to add that the maintenance staff at Greenville Schools are all employees of GPS, not contracted employees. We appreciate the loyalty of these people and they always give us 100 percent.

Who knew? These people rarely make front page news and they don’t toot their own horn. They usually don’t hear from the rest of us unless we have a complaint.

So I want to use this space this week to remind all of us to look around and identify at least one person or group who deserves our appreciation. Thank them personally, write them a note or in some other way let them know that their effort is noticed and appreciated. Then, if like me, you are able to enjoy this wintery experience, do so.

Janet Ralph is president of the Greenville Public Schools Board of Education.

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