Snow Stories: Going Above and Beyond for our Schools

February 22, 2011

By Mark Bishop, Vice President of Policy & Communications

Snow

A few weeks ago, Chicago had the mother of all blizzards: the Blizzard of 2011. Our offices shut down, I shoveled all day long with my neighbors and for the first time in nearly 12 years, CPS closed school due to snow — get this — for two days! That doesn’t happen in Chicago.

As challenging as the snow was, it also brought out some great stories like this one, about Dwayne Lones, the school engineer from Ashburn Elementary School:

“On Wednesday, February 2, Mr. Lones arrived at the school at 4:00 a.m. to begin the task of clearing the snow from the school.  Of course, I was very happy he arrived so early, but I was shocked when he informed me that the side streets were impassable and he had to WALK from his home in order to make it to the school!  I could not believe it!  He lives quite a distance from the school.  On Thursday, he did the same thing again…walked all the way to the school to ensure it was clear and safe for students and staff.”

Another great story is about Vincent Zagotta, the substitute engineer from Daniel S Wentworth Elementary School:

“Mr. Zagotta showed up and shoveled out during the storm. He left at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, only to return at 6:00 p.m. that same night! He spent the night to make sure that the heat was working properly and that the walkways were plowed.  On Wednesday, none of his custodians came in, but when I arrived early Thursday morning, the walkways were plowed around the entire block-long building. The parking lot was also ready to receive the full staff!”

Yet another great story is about the principal from Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences:

“Principal Hook spent the night at his school, having packed an air mattress and sleeping bag, knowing that had he gone home on Tuesday, getting to school on Wednesday would have been a major struggle. With the help of his engineers, Principal Hook made sure the parking lots were plowed regularly during the snow storm. But Chicago Ag isn´t your regular CPS high school — Principal Hook had to make sure that the livestock was fed as well…”

So, a huge thank you to all the unsung heroes who go above and beyond to make sure our schools are safe, clean and working for all students and teachers. While the Blizzard of 2011 gave us the opportunity to give special recognition, let’s not forget that these are the individuals whose work every day makes our schools better places to learn.