Muldoon and the Snow Day Call

by Mary Riley

For some superintendents’ families, living in the school district of employment can have its perks — especially if you enjoy attention. A local supermarket where we often shopped once opened a new checkout line just for us because they recognized my husband Max, the superintendent.

But sometimes even living in a neighboring community has its difficulties. Before I became a superintendent’s spouse and worked in a school district in the Pacific Northwest, I overheard the chair of a school district’s ad hoc personnel selection committee mention that his group probably should not recommend the lead candidate for a school counselor position because her husband, a school superintendent, was employed by a neighboring school district that had a revolving-door reputation that implied short-term residence in the community for the family.

RileyPuppy.jpgMuldoon was the first of three beagles to live in the Riley household.

On the other hand, seeing a superintendent’s family — spouse, children and pets — out in the local community can add a human dimension to the superintendency that some might have difficulty imagining otherwise. Again, this can have two sides. For example, a mention of our dog once made it into an anonymous hate-mail letter. The letter writer, undoubtedly a coward masquerading as a bully, wanted to let us know she or he had us under observation by mentioning a daily walk in the park with our dog.

Speaking of Muldoon, however, brings to mind a much happier snow day story. Muldoon was our beagle at the time. One day, when Max, my superintendent husband, was out walking Muldoon, he met some local schoolchildren who asked him how he decides whether school should close when it snows.

“Do you see this dog?” Max asked them. They nodded solemnly and stared at Muldoon. “Well, when I get up in the morning and see that it’s snowing, I throw him outside. If he sinks up to his neck, then we close schools.”

Those of you who wear your pajamas inside out and backward in hopes of snow now may want to rethink the practice!

— Mary Riley

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