Chamblee Middle School Principal Shares Her “Snow Jam Nightmare” Story
Chamblee Middle School Principal, Cynthia Jackson
Chamblee, GA. February 1, 2013 – Many in and around our area have stories of how this weeks winter storm impacted their lives. Stories of super long scary commutes, worries about getting to schools and daycares to pick up our children as well as many stories of Good Samaritans helping their fellow man.
Now imagine being responsible for a building full of other peoples children and many employees when it all happened.
Cynthia Jackson, Principal at Chamblee Middle School, shared her story in a Bulldog Blast of the events that took place Tuesday, January 28th, “Snow Jam Nightmare 2014.”
Dear CMS Parents and Guardians,
I have labeled the sequence of events that took place on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 Snow Jam Nightmare 2014. We all have different stories of how we were personally impacted by this event. I will tell mine from a school perspective.
As you know, we were instructed to dismiss at 3:15 p.m. When that time got here, there were only two buses outside. We have a total of seventeen buses. At dismissal, we routed all the bus riders to the gym to wait on buses.
When 5:00 rolled around, we still had 44 students in the gym and several car riders who had not been picked up yet. Buses were not able to get through the traffic and bad roads, and parents were having the same problems.
As it got closer to 6:00, I was instructed by the district to set up a shelter for the remaining students we had and prepare to spend the night. We followed that protocol and waited. I went into the walk in refrigerator in the cafeteria and found all the food I could to feed the remaining students and adults who were here (My Head Custodian, Mr. Day, Asst. Principal, Mrs. Cromer-Nunn, Asst. Principal, Dr. Briggs, and Asst. Principal, Mr. Childs. . . I also had the wonderful School Resource Officer from CCHS here helping us too. He was awesome). Everyone thought they were feasting on PBnJ sandwiches, cheese sandwiches, bananas, juice and milk. When you are hungry, everything taste good.
About 6:30 p.m. a wonderful retainer bus driver came and took one of the seven routes that had not picked up. How he maneuvered these roads and traffic I do not know, but he came back at 7:30 and got the last two students. In the interim, I had parents driving and walking to school to retrieve their children. CMS parents are awesome!!!
At 7:45 p.m., I gathered my three Asst. Principals and Head Custodian in the main office and instructed them to gather in a circle and hold hands. We prayed. I thanked God that all the children were picked up safely. I thanked God for the people in the room, and I asked that we all make it home safely and that our families make it home safely as well.
I live in Hoschton, Georgia which is exactly 40 miles up I-85 north. .Everyone thought I would not make it. Amazingly enough, I drove the 40 miles at 35 miles an hour and arrived home at 9:15 p.m. It was terrifying, but I made it. Dr. Briggs was hit by an SUV and ended up at her sister’s house after abandoning her car. Mr. Childs had to abandon his SUV in Stone Mountain Village. A kind family game him a ride home. Mrs. Cromer-Nunn had to abandon her truck off US 78 and walk 8 miles home on icy roads. She made it home at 3:00 a.m. Mr. Day ended up at Northlake, but he eventually got back on the road and arrived home around 3:00 a.m. I know all this, because I could not sleep until I knew they were all home safely and we were in communication.
I know everyone has similar and worse stories than ours. This has been a catastrophic event for us all. The one constant positive is my wonderful staff and parents who stuck around after dismissal asking how they could help. In a crisis, you find out what people are really made of and what they value. I already knew that my staff and parents are good in a crisis and go out of their way to help someone in need. That was reinforced for me on January 28, 2014.
Several people have asked me what the district plans to do to make up these three days. Right now, I don’t have a clue. When everything calms down and we have recovered from this ordeal, I know the district will address that. Thank you parents for all your help, your concern for us, and your generous spirits. I sincerely appreciate you.
With an attitude of gratitude,
Cynthia Jackson, Principal