MOGADORE, Ohio – Bitter-cold temperatures, blowing snow and slick roads forced the closing of numerous schools across Northeast Ohio on Monday.
Among them were Waterloo, Rootstown and Field Local Schools.
Located in the middle of those districts is St. Joseph Parish and School, where Father Thomas Acker has vowed to keep the school open even on days when other schools are closed.
“Last week there were two days off because the weather was cold, cold. It wasn’t cold at all. They just called it off and I said to myself, this is crazy; this is absolutely. I can’t understand it,” said Acker on Monday.
Rather than calling those days ‘calamity’ days, Fr. Acker chooses to look at them as an opportunity.
“The children are off, but it allows you to take a curriculum and do some really fascinating things that they couldn’t get in an ordinary curriculum so they get something a little extra and that’s how you make education work,” said Acker.
A graduate of Stanford University and the former head of Wheeling Jesuit University, Acker takes education very seriously and believes having kids in a safe, warm classroom is better than letting them stay at home.
But parents are given an option.
“If they find it really dangerous, keep them home, no problem, because we’re not taking attendance. But if you really want your child to be educated, you make the effort to get them here and you can drive safely if you want,” said Acker, adding, “one parent called me up and said ‘both my wife and I are going to be home. It’s a chance for us to bond with the family.’ Please, do it. That’s good. It’s like home schooling. That’s good but most of them can’t do that and so we offer this opportunity to help them and to give a better education for the children.”
The invitation is open to all parents who are members of St. Joseph Parish even if their kids normally attend public schools.
“About half of our students come to our school here and parents, about another half that are parishoners go to public school and I said look, your school is closed bring them in here we’ll teach them, we’ll give them a chance to see what Catholic education is about,” said Acker.
If parents can drive their kids to the school they can be dropped off at the back door where Acker says they will only spend seconds in the cold.
St. Joseph Principal Beth Frank is there to open the door for them.
“This is only our second day and so far it has been very positive,” said Frank.
“Parents are very grateful that they have a place where they know their kids are safe and where they are going to continue learning and also they have fun and so they are very grateful to have a place like that to take their kids,” added Frank.
Acker says the kids seem to like it too. “Especially the young students– they love it. Now the older students– they want to sit at home and kind of recreate. We want to teach. We want to teach,” said Acker.
Hundreds of schools have decided to cancel classes on Tuesday. CLICK HERE for an updated list.