- A school superintendent-principal duo have become an overnight hit with their parody of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah” used as a snow day announcement. The YouTube video, which features two talented school administrators — Superintendent Ben Mainka and Principal Jim Kitchen of the Swartz Creek Community Schools in Michigan — received well over 700,000 views last week, NPR reports.
- Other school leaders have also used snow days as a way to capitalize on their creativity. Brett Hoesing, the superintendent of the Missouri Valley Community Schools in Iowa, released a remix of "Uptown Funk" last week, and Principal Brian McCann of Joseph Case High School in Swansea, Massachusetts, staged a special song-and-dance version of “All That Jazz” with school staff last year.
- Canceling school is a hard decision for school administrators who must take into consideration a number of factors, including the safety of students and staff, the effects on academic achievement and the impact on families. However, the use of creative announcements allows school leaders to connect with the community in a positive way and inject a little humor into the serious business of education.
Snow days are tough on administrators who must wrestle with the decision and its impact on students and academic achievement. They also tend to receive comments and criticism no matter what decision they make. However, a growing number of school leaders are using the power of social media to turn snow days into a way to connect with the community and build good will in the process. Mainka and Kitchen are receiving the most attention now because of their vocal talents. Since their first video was such a smash, the duo followed up with a parody of "Let it Go" from “Frozen.” The main problem, the administrators say, is that fans are demanding more.
Other superintendents and principals have also released musical versions of snow day announcements. Jeff Scott, of the Britton-Deerfield District, also in Michigan, set his announcement to the tune of country music star Sam Hunt’s “Body Like a Back Road.”
However, school leaders don’t have to be talented vocalists to produce an effective video. Last year, Gerry Brooks, a principal in Lexington, Kentucky, made a video portraying all the fun principals have with the school to themselves on a snow day. This year, the principal and some staff members in Dunlap Community School District 323 used a similar approach. And Superintendent Mark Rollefson of the Jefferson School District in Wisconsin posted a video this week showing the extraordinary lengths he goes to keep students in school because “they need to learn!”
Efforts like these demonstrate the impact of creative leadership and are also a powerful way to connect with community members and families who get to see a different side of school leaders. Such efforts also help foster a positive school culture because these videos bring a smile to the faces of students and teachers.