They are many things to many people. To the driver in a rush, they are a hindrance. To the community in which they live and serve, they are the helpers. To the students that they protect, they are the heroes. These heroes do not wear a gun, carry the equipment of a sworn officer, or drive the fastest police cars. Instead, they wear a bright vest, carry a stop sign, and a few even walk to work. They are the crossing guards who staff the numerous intersections bordering the schools in Clay County, and we caught up with two of them during their summer break to hear their stories and gain insight into what make their jobs so rewarding.
Ms. Sandy has been a crossing guard for Fleming Island Elementary for more than four years, and we asked her to share the best part of her job. “The students are fantastic. I just love them, and I enjoy getting to know their parents as well. Over time, you begin to understand their personalities, and you know when they are having a bad day. I do all that I can to help make those bad days a little better. As a grandparent, getting to know the students and parents keeps me in touch with their generation, and at times I feel like I’m getting to re-live my grandchildren’s lives through them.” When asked if she ever had a scary or dangerous moment in her time as a guard, Ms. Sandy shared that, “mainly, there are little falls and scraped knees, but there have also been a few near misses from drivers who were not paying attention. We did have one driver who screamed obscenities as he rolled through the intersection, but I made sure that the kids knew that they were safe even though it was a scary moment.”
Ms. Kim, who has been a crossing guard for 7 years at various schools, echoed many of Ms. Sandy’s comments. “Every day, I remember that I’m one of the first faces that the students see before going into the school. I want to do everything I can to make that moment the highlight of their day. I love it when they respond by telling me that I’m their favorite guard or when they jump up to high-five my free hand as they cross the street. Sometimes, they need a little help. I’ve tied a lot of shoes, and I have fixed more bicycle chains than I care to count. Not all of the students are interested in connecting like that, but I still say hello to them. They realize that I’m going to keep being nice to them, and they eventually warm up to me.” When asked about the dangers of the job, Ms. Kim spoke of a few close calls from distracted drivers, and she said that it wasn’t unusual to have an antsy student who wanted to jump out ahead of her. “You just have to be totally aware of what’s going on every minute that you are out there.”
As the new school year approaches, more crossing guards are needed to keep our students safe, and Ms. Kim and Ms. Sandy have some thoughts on the qualifications that make a great guard. “Situational awareness is so important,” stated Ms. Sandy. “You have to keep an eye on the students and the traffic as you do your job. You also need to enjoy being up early, and you can’t be sensitive to a little weather.” Ms. Kim added, “You cannot assume that a driver will stop. You have to be assertive when you are protecting the children.” When asked for final thoughts, Ms. Sandy shared, “Age is really not a factor in this job. I am a people person, and this is a great job for someone who loves getting to know other folks.” Ms. Kim said, “I’ve worked in several 9-5 jobs in my life, but this one is really great. I love being outside, and I really enjoy having freedom throughout most of the day. These are my kids!”
If you think that you have what it takes to become a crossing guard, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office would enjoy getting to know you. Applications are now being accepted for the 2022-2023 school year, and interested individuals may contact us at 904-529-6040 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.