Safe on the streets

Crossing guards have an important job in getting students to school each day

By Bridget Hillier

In September 2014, my mom decided we should move. That meant I would be going to a new school and I’d be able to walk from school to my house. The first day I walked home from school there was a crossing guard. His name is Sean Kelly and he is more than just a crossing guard. He also spends time volunteering and watching his grandchildren. The kids who also walk say they feel safe with Mr. Kelly being there. 

“I needed to find a part-time job and I like working with children,” Mr. Kelly says of the reason why he got a job as a crossing guard. He also makes time for the Knights of Columbus, which is the volunteer group he is in. They help with Special Olympics, Beacon House, and much more. He says that he loves seeing the kids because they are polite. Mr. Kelly also likes working with children because it’s rewarding. He works 3.5 hours a day: one hour in the morning, one hour and a half hour at lunch, and one hour in the afternoon. He has been a crossing guard for three years. His former job was as a salesman for Timex. He travelled across the Atlantic Provinces for 30 years. Mr. Kelly said it was a fun job, it paid the bills, but he missed a lot of special occasions. 

Mr. Kelly explained that 99 per cent of cars pay attention and one per cent don’t. He makes sure that he has eye contact with the drivers and everyone is stopped so the kids can cross the road safely. “The biggest single problem is the people behind me on the inside,” Mr. Kelly says. “Most times if I see them going, I can point a finger at them and they will stop.” 

What people don’t realize is Mr. Kelly can get their license plate number, call the police and they can get a $675 fine, and four points on their license. But it is hard because he has to watch the children. “They don’t understand that the stop sign is the same as a bus,” Mr. Kelly says. “Once that sign is up, you cannot go through the crosswalk in either direction until I put that sign down.” So, drivers please pay extra attention when the crossing guard is crossing the children. 

Mr. Pat Woodrow is safety supervisor for the crossing guards. He says in August all the crossing guards from the three locations (Halifax, Dartmouth, and Lower Sackville/Bedford) go for training. Human resources and the Halifax Regional police department hold this training every year before school starts. In Halifax there are approximately 67 crossing guards, in Dartmouth there are approximately 63, and in the Sackville/Bedford area there are approximately 45. Mr. Woodrow’s job is to make sure the crossing guards are at their crosswalk, have the proper training, and are keeping the children safe. But crossing guards work with everyone for safety. “I don’t think the program could operate correctly if we weren’t in close contact with principals, vice-principals and parents,” Mr. Woodrow says.

The crossing guards are an important part of the year to make sure that the kids get to school and back home safely. “The crossing guards are professional, very conscientious and they take their jobs seriously,” Mr. Woodrow says. “The children certainly would not be safe without their professionalism.” 

I hope that after reading this article the children appreciate the crossing guards more, and drivers are cautious about crosswalk safety. 

If you are a parent who would like to say something about your local crossing guard, call or talk to your principal.   

Bridget Hillier is a Grade 6 student and attending Sackville Heights Junior High this year.