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Atlanta educators stay behind with stranded kids

Liz Jackson

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All of the staff and students at Keheley Elementary School on Kemp Road in east Cobb County are long gone, except for two kindergartners whose parents have been trying for hours to come and fetch them.

Principal Liz Jackson alone stayed behind to care for them.

"We've done movies, we've done games, we've done snacks," she said. "The cafeteria manager called and told us where to find food."

After school was dismissed early she sent all of the staff members home, but stayed with the two stranded 5-year-olds. Custodian Ron Wright, who had left earlier with the rest of the staff, got stuck on nearby Trickum Road so he walked back. 

"He's probably going to spend the night here," Jackson said. Once her students' parents are able to reach them, she likely will walk to the home of one of the school's teachers who live nearby.

"I don't want to chance getting out after dark," said Jackson, who lives in Roswell. "The storm moved in as predicted and it caught everybody. I wish we had dismissed at 10:30 instead of 12:30 p.m. but that's a tough call."

The kids are weathering the bad weather just fine. Wright, the custodian, went out and made snow cream for everyone and they thought that was great.

"We're safe," she said. "All of our (other) kids got home safe. That's the most important thing."

Elsewhere in Cobb, Fair Oaks Elementary School principal Cindy Szwec and teacher Katie Stieber are still at school with a stranded student. The salad another teacher brought for lunch but didn't eat became dinner, along with milk, cereal and an orange for the student.

"We are good," Stieber said. "All schools will have heat on all night. The roads are so bad that I decided to keep my principal company and help man the phones." 

At at the Walker School in Marietta, lower school principal Megan Howard reports the entire administrative team along with some teachers are still there with "a couple dozen students."

"We're making the most of it," Howard said. "Chicken sandwiches and fries, basketball in the gym, and movies."  

A teacher at Langston Hughes High School in Fulton County who didn't want to be named said staff members are still at the school with about 200 students.  

In Cherokee County, Cheryl Hofmann said more than 200 students, including one of hers, are stuck at River Ridge High School in Cherokee County and will have to spend the night there. In all, she said, more than 450 kids at River Ridge and Mill Creek Middle School next door, are stuck there.

"Cherokee County stopped the buses around 3:30 p.m. today - roads iced, car accidents everywhere," she said. "Most of the roads to the high school are closed by the Sherriff's Department so no one can get through. While I'm having a panic attack as a mother of one of those teenagers, I am forever grateful for the school staff who are taking care of those kids. I'm sure they would rather be home with their children instead of taking care of mine. Teachers and principals are heroes in so many ways! God bless them all!"

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