Thanks, but No Thanks

Richmond Family Magazine is a free, local publication that’s been in existence since 2009. I browsed the magazine a few times, but I am not a devoted reader because of it’s lack of substance. It’s chock full of more advertisements than articles. The managing editor of RFM is Karen Schwartzkopf, and this week she put Virginia teachers in her crosshairs.

Beginning Friday, it started snowing in Central Virginia. By 10:00 p.m. on Saturday night, we had 12-15 inches in Richmond and the surrounding counties. School was cancelled Friday, Monday, and Tuesday…so far. Like my students, I get giddy over snow days. Mrs. Schwartzkopf, however, does not approve of that sentiment and let Twitter know about it.

IMG_0150(Image source: Mouthy Mother)

“Thanks, but no thanks,” is the only acceptable and family-friendly response I can think of for her #sorrynotsorry lameness.

Mrs. Schwartzkopf, I am not rooting to avoid my students. Snow days create more work for teachers when we have to revise our lesson plans and, undoubtedly, cut certain activities because we are expected to adhere to guidelines for pacing and testing. There will be field trips, conferences, and meetings to reschedule, as well as children to refocus. I find your attitude faulting teachers for the weather misplaced and immature. I root for snow days because I can be productive (I emailed parents, responded to students’ questions via Edmodo, and graded work today) while spending extra time with my own children. Slowing down our morning hustle and bustle on occasion is a nice and welcome change.

Here is what I really do not understand…

Why is it acceptable to openly disrespect and mock teachers in 2016? Over a snow day. When did the profession become worthy of such snark and silliness? Why are public servants, including police officers and teachers, the villains these days? I have taught middle school since 2007, and every year there are those few little darlings that make me question my chosen profession. But I realize that a child’s poor attitude and behavior towards teachers and classmates are likely learned from the adults in his or her life. Children need a model for respectful behavior, and some parents fail to meet this bill. On the other hand, middle-schoolers are impulsive, emotional animals. You deal with it and move on. As teachers, we strive every day to foster positive relationships with students and parents, hold our students accountable, give children a sounding board, make the classroom fun, encourage analytical thinking, and spend our own money on classroom supplies to that effect–all while collecting endless amounts of data, completing forms, checking off boxes, and spending hours upon hours in professional development, parent conferences, and meetings. Our good intentions and best practices never seem to be enough, and we are under constant scrutiny. Gregory Michie wrote in The Washington Post, “We’ve created a climate where good, hard-working educators feel justifiably discouraged and unjustly maligned.” That’s a big reason why morale is low among teachers across this country. The concepts of teachers becoming targets and our country’s CULTURE of disrespect is further opined by The Chicago Tribune,, and The Wall Street Journal.

The fact that Mrs. Schwartzkopf, a work-from-home mother, saw her teacher friends celebrating a snow day apparently sent her over the edge. Perhaps she’s waging the psychological mommy wars, one of those parents who project her own sanctimony and/or shortcomings on other parents. Maybe she views school as daycare and teachers as babysitters. Whatever her motive, I’ll say it again: Our good intentions and best practices are never enough.

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 10.11.15 PM(Image source: Mouthy Mother)

I found Mrs. Schwartzkopf’s apologies insincere. Since those apologies, she deleted her Twitter account. It’s unfortunate she felt the need to hide. Mrs. Schwartzkopf, as a teacher, please allow me to share why I welcome a couple days “off” and the goals I’m working on this week. Consider it a “teachable moment.”

  • Work on my NBC entry: This 12-page narrative to accompany my submission for National Board Certification is kicking my butt. I haven’t written a paper like this since college, but it’s nothing like college writing. By the time I achieve certification, I will spend $1,025 of my own money and give up several Saturdays attending workshops and coaching sessions. I don’t want to sound like a martyr because I realized the work, time, and money commitments when I signed up; but I do want to point out how ridiculous you, Mrs. Schwartzkopf, sound when you mock people who also work from home in the evenings, weekends, summer, and blizzards.
  • Paperwork: I am up for recertification and my triennial summative review this year. I brought home my binder to organize the forms, certificates, emails, and lesson plans I collect to demonstrate I can do my job.
  • Get at least four Weight Watchers FitPoints every day: I’ve done this by walking the dog with my oldest son, and sledding and playing outside with my younger two.
  • Meal plan and prep: I usually do this every other weekend, but this Saturday I’ll be attending one of those NBC coaching sessions referenced above.
  • Clean bathrooms: I live with three little boys and a husband…enough said. This is low on the totem pole and the reason we buy Clorox wipes in bulk.

Today, my three boys and I piled onto the couch after breakfast and watched The Lorax. Things 1 and 2 took turns reciting all the lines. Thing 3 was just happy to be invited to the couch party. It was a wonderful moment, and one I will not apologize for wanting more of. I’ve never met Mrs. Schwartzkopf, and I certainly do not want to judge a person based on one poor comment. People have bad days, but when you use your status to promote poorly-placed snark and disrespect among your readers and followers, you lack integrity and common sense. Perhaps you should spend a week as a substitute teacher and see what it’s like in the trenches. How quickly will you be hoping for a snow day? I’ll offer the same advice I offer my 7th graders…Slow down, check your work, and think before you speak.

To read more about this debate and another perspective, check out Mouthy Mother’s blog post here.

And no matter what Mrs. Schwartzkopf says, my boys are loving our snow days. They also love their teachers, who I hope are enjoying some well-deserved time to explore the world outside the classroom.





14 thoughts on “Thanks, but No Thanks

  1. As a parent of a school aged child allow me to extend my gratitude to you for doing what you do, teaching the next generation’s great leaders. Being a teacher is not all that you or your fellow coworkers across the country are. You’re moms and dads, human beings. I’m thankful you were able to make memories with your little ones. They grow up so fast. I hope in-between all that you were able to do during these past few days you were also able to get some you time as well. Hug your little ones a little tighter, because tomorrow they will be a day older. Keep up the great work, both at home and in the classroom, you’re doing an amazing job. Know that you have an army of parents who support you and your fellow coworkers.
    Take care!
    Amrah O’Donnell

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for your wonderful response. As a mom who has taught your words were spot on. I hope Karen is humbled and does some serious soul searching. Enjoy your snow days. They are a previous way for us to connect with our own kids and give to our school kids better.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am a preschool teacher and I am grateful for this time to renew and restore. I have been fighting upper respiratory with antibiotics but time to rest has helped me immensely. I know that I will be recharged when I go back to the classroom and I do miss those little darlings!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The reason she needs to hide is there are some vicious commenters out there. For some reason, I have felt the need to support Ms. Schwartzkopf despite not knowing her and not even agreeing with her sentiment. (Everyone wants an extra day off now and then.) Perhaps it is because I have said a number of regrettable things on social media myself. Fortunately, my comments have been limited to a few hundred “friends” on Facebook (and probably a much lower number that bothered to read them), and I was able to delete such comments without someone taking a screenshot and circulating them all around town. Subsequently, I had the opportunity to reflect, have a change of heart, and grow from my mistakes. I have become much more circumspect about what I post. I am sure Ms. Schwartzkopf will do the same, as we will probably hear her say in a future edition of her magazine.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks for your comment, David. My husband and I had a similar conversation last night. We teach kids about digital citizenship, and I see this as another example of how social media takes away our filters and common sense sometimes. As for the vicious commenters, they are equally out of line–I hope my blog post expressed my frustration with our culture’s overall lack of respect, which is sadly reinforced when people continue to spew vitriol all over social media. The discussion should be more about reflection than getting even. Schwartzkopf made a flippant comment made worse by an arrogant apology, but I’m sure those comments do not define her as a person, mother, wife, or any role she fills. I certainly don’t wish her any ill will; but I did feel the need to defend my friends, who are also hardworking mothers and fathers. Teachers too often are treated like punching bags, and the job demands you have thick skin and keep smiling.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m sorry, but I understand Ms. Schwartzkopf’s frustration. She shouldn’t have tweeted from her business account, but working parents who don’t get days off when their kids get days off are in a really tough place on snow days. I could’ve chosen to be a teacher like my Mom, but work schedule isn’t reason enough to choose a profession. I “get” the need for a day to recharge, but it’s really difficult for me to see my teacher friends cheering for continued days off…when all that means is a hell-ish schedule for the Mom or Dad who is expected to work. You are right – we need to consider everyone’s perspective…and also take bit of a chill pill (“boycotting” over a tweet like this seems extreme, don’t you think?).


    • First, please don’t apologize for having a point of view.
      And to clarify, I never called for a boycott of RFM, nor did I choose my profession based on a schedule. I’m actually a career switcher because I found my previous job unfulfilling, unchallenging, and monotonous.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Kimberly – Ms. Schwartzkopf is a work at home mother. It’s not like those of us who have to pay extra for an emergency sitter (no family in my area), make sure we stock up on extra food, and don’t get to stay home and enjoy the day with our kids. She should probably have thought of it the other way – Sorry she’s upset at the opportunity to spend a little extra time with her kids instead of sending them off to be raised by someone else 8 hours a day.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Why does someone have to hold in their enthusiasm about their good fortune because it isn’t equal for somebody else? If one guy cheers about winning the lottery, should the next guy be bitter and tell him he should keep that noise to himself b/c the rest of us still have to work for a living? Life isn’t fair. It would be one thing for Karen or a working parent to complain about her snow situation, but it’s another to be annoyed at someone else being happy about a family day or work catch up day that came about at the same time. That is selfish and jealous.

      Why can’t someone be frustrated with their own situation but maintain happiness for others who benefited or escaped the fate of the circumstances at the same time? Maybe hard, but it’s the right thing to do.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you for your blog post. After 20 years of teaching, I no longer feel guilty when others complain about a teacher’s time off. I work enough overtime during the year to cover all vacations, snow days, and beyond. However, the public and media’s view of teachers really can pack a punch. I, and every one of my colleagues work our buns off everyday for our kids. We give them every part of us, emotionally, physically, and psychologically. A teacher’s love is sometimes the only love a child will know. I would just like for those that are breaking teachers down to stop and put themselves in our shoes. I love what I do and feel sorry for those that cannot experience what joy a teacher gets on a daily basis. We teach our students to build up not tear down. Unfortunately, this is a lesson that most adults need also.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I can tell you from personal experience that there is no stronger advocate for education and teachers than Karen Schwartzkopf. The original tweet, I feel sure, was written in frustration (unfortunately social media makes a momentary emotion last forever). Her family is strong in character and this anger is misplaced when it is directed at her and the publication.
    I am glad you were so productive and yet able to enjoy these snow days.
    Teachers are truly unsung heroes – be confident that your efforts make a difference.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Can’t help but weigh in here, even though I am a retired teacher. I loved my teaching career and still enjoy teaching and learning. When I read Mrs. Swartzkopf’s comments, it occurred to me that before someone chooses to criticize teachers as if they make the decisions for when schools have snow days…..they should please realize that teachers don’t get paid for days that school is not in session. Teachers are paid for working a certain number of days each year. So when they make up snow days…. teachers have to be there. They don’t get paid for summer either. They can choose to spread their annual salaries across 12 months, but they are actually only paid for the number of days in their contracts.

    So there! Now anyone who thinks that teachers are getting by with something can stop being jealous and be thankful that they don’t have to work 80 hours a week during the school year, staying up nights grading papers and projects, calling parents, creating lesson plans for that spin magic for your students, and even dreaming about them. Teaching is not an occupation that you ever get to leave at work. Everything you do is about that classroom.

    On another note – Good luck with your quest for National Board Certification. It’s the most rewarding professional development that I ever undertook.

    Paulette Whitehurst
    NBCT 2003

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for taking the time to post this and speak up for teachers! I don’t get paid snowed days, and as a parent with young children they are an inconvenience, that said I STILL GET EXCITED ABOUT SNOW DAYS because teachers deserve a break!!!!


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