Few students would complain about a snow day. But it might be a good idea to check back in with them June 18.
That's the new last day of the school year in Howard County public schools as dictated by last week's winter storm, which scuttled two days of classes. The originally scheduled last day was Tuesday, June 16.
The weather created an extended, unexpected break for county students, who had a half-day for testing Friday, Jan. 23, and last Monday for a scheduled professional work day. Tuesday and Wednesday's snow days, plus a two-hour delay Thursday, amounted to a gift from the gods of winter.
And students were coming off of a three-day weekend the previous week for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and a two-week winter break in December. That vacation was nearly twice as long as the previous school year.
But better to be sidetracked by weather last week than the week before, schools spokeswoman Patti Caplan said.
"We just made it through the midterm exam schedule last week," Caplan said of the week of Jan. 19. "If we were to have inclement weather, I'm glad it was this week."
The county's school calendar is equipped to add up to six days at the end of the year to make up for inclement weather.
The current system started in 1991. Before that, the average of three inclement weather days was automatically built into the school calendar, which many found confusing, Caplan said.
Melissa Shindel, an assistant principal at Patuxent Valley Middle School, has been named one of three finalists for the 2009 NASSP/Virco National Assistant Principal of the Year Award.
"It isn't very often that you have one of your teachers or administrators make it this far in this type of a recognition program," Caplan said. "It's such a tribute to Miss Shindel and the leadership that she brings."
Shindel has been with the school system for three years. She worked as an administrator in Prince George's County for seven years before that.
"I was excited, humbled, surprised and honored," Shindel said of the distinction.
The winner of the award will receive $5,000, which can be used in their school or for personal professional development. The winner will be announced Feb. 28 at NASSP's national convention in San Diego.
Shindel was picked out of a pool of candidates representing each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity School.
"We collectively have hundreds of thousands of fingers crossed on her behalf," Caplan said.
In a statement, Principal Robert Motley said: "She is a woman of integrity who takes pride in keeping her word. She works hard and models the high expectations she sets for others."
In literature distributed by NASSP, executive director Gerald N. Tirozzi said: "Assistant principals play an integral role in the molding of the school's culture, attitude and, in turn, performance. Melissa has shown dedication not only to her students, but also her staff, making Patuxent Middle School a great place to be."