The Crossing Guard Chronicles: “I’m Glad I’m There, Too!”

Morning light dusts away the darkness. Young students make their way to the school crossing post.  It’s tranquil but for the quiet conversations among friends and the humming of local traffic that announces the start of a new work day.  Some still have sleepy eyes, others are hurriedly finishing an abbreviated breakfast.  The calm is about to change.

“Good morning!”

My long distance call even catches the attention of drivers.

Eyes pop with a mild show of enthusiasm and attention.  Some eagerly anticipate what’s next, a few roll their eyes, no doubt.  They know it’s another morning of quizzes, fun facts, brain teasers or historical notes.  Maybe a quick grammar question, or an observation about the beautiful sunrise greeting us in the east.  Yes, knowing directions is a topic for discussion.  All this before they even step into their buildings.

I’m a school crossing guard, one of a dozen in my town.  And my post is an impromptu ‘curbside classroom’, across the street from the middle and high schools.

A million seconds is 12 days, how much is a billion seconds? *  (you’ll be surprised at the difference)

The eye movement shows they’re thinking and a few figure it out quickly.

I have only a minute, or so, to engage these preteens and teens as we await our traffic signal.  By the time they’ve crossed, most are fully awake, a bit more energized and generally, smiling, a result of our encounter, I’d like to think.

Who is Jeff Bezos?**  Who was Ferdinand Magellan?***

These kids are whizzes, they know the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ names. Few questions go unanswered and there’s a sense of eager enthusiasm, from the youngest to oldest.

Generally, our topics are light, sometimes humorous or serious, but often poignant. There’s an objective to my ‘drills’.

We’ve discussed STEM****, and NASA science, as in what is LEO***** and how is a young woman, Amber Yang******, tying them together?

These young people are much busier than I was at their ages: school, homework, clubs, sports and, for some, jobs.  Starting the day with a greeting, a smile, a ‘challenge’, puts them in a good frame of mind.  It gets them thinking, maybe relaxes them.  And, it’s a two way street, we energize each other.

A survey question draws curious looks: do you eat your apple around the circumference, or stem to bottom*******, something simple to awaken their senses and promote a dialogue between us.  Some are excellent communicators, others are learning, while a small number prefer to remain quiet.   It’s rewarding to see their growth in this area over a school year’s time.

November was the anniversary of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address********.  What did Lincoln mean by his words, ‘all men’?  The thinking caps were humming for this one.

How do you pronounce humus and hummus, and what are they?********* 

Yes, there were some humorous replies, there always are, these are kids.  Nevertheless, with only a minute of ‘class time’, we answered both parts.

I’ve learned this about kids, they like being challenged and enjoy showing what they know.  A high schooler paid a compliment, “we’re glad you’re here with your facts, stories and questions”.  Nice feedback…

I’m glad I’m there, too…

Steve B

To ‘teachers’ everywhere who stimulate the minds of young people, we’re glad you’re there, too.

* 32+ years; ** founder of Amazon Worldwide Services, world’s wealthiest person; *** Portuguese explorer who led  first (Spanish) circumnavigation of the world, killed in the process; **** Science, Technology, Engineering, Math; ***** Low Earth Orbit; ****** 19 year old Stanford student who developed a program to track space debris that NASA uses to protect spacecraft and astronauts; ******* around the circumference, overwhelmingly; ******** November 19, 1863; ********* organic matter versus food matter

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Retired in 2013 after 5 years as an elementary school teacher and 40 years as a sales representative to begin anew as a school crossing guard. SMy essays/stories are a way to communicate through the telling of personal experiences. One reader said about my blog stories, "...these are like a cold sip during a marathon run, simple, real life events". Another offered about my blog, “it brings some sense of normalcy not easily found in the modern world.”

44 thoughts on “The Crossing Guard Chronicles: “I’m Glad I’m There, Too!””

  1. I still Love your stories and the way you are. Correct the kids are lucky to have you and you also learn from the kids. You might have very funny answers. However I am glad you put the answers to the questions since I might have failed.
    All the best my dear friend from above the continent.


  2. Love this one Steve! 😊 Nothing keep you young like engaging with a young person. It’s obviously a joy for you to have such a job & what a great greeting for the kids each morning- Who has more fun with it?! Ps thanks for including answers at the bottom – would’ve missed a few 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Frank. Nice comment and so glad you read it. And, yes, please share. As cold, or hot, as it gets, the kids make my little job a lot of fun/rewarding.


    1. Jennie, I know there were a couple of other brain teasers but my brain won’t let me remember them. Yesterday, we discussed blueberry pancakes and the Cracker Barrel restaurant. I had a few of them ‘salivating’. It’s all in good fun with a purpose…and up to your standards, of course 😉. Thanks for your nice words and the encouragement. Now, Have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is in good fun and so much more. I am in awe at what you do. You “get it” and care. It feels mighty nice to know you have made a difference. 🙂 Reblog soon. So much to say.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you, Jennie. It is fun, too. There are a few I haven’t seemed to reach yet, and at the other end of the spectrum, I have a high schooler who is asking me stuff. I’ve had to stop the ‘high fives’ starting today because I believe my carpel tunnel issue is really a strained thumb & wrist. Too much enthusiasm 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I believe it easily 🙂 It will be dark enough to see it in another hour. Darkest part of the year. I cannot wait until next month when we start to see a few minutes of daylight again!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wow, these kids know their planets, generally. By the way, check out the moon tonight. Where I am, there are two planets lined up near the moon. Appears as a very bright star but it’s mars and, I believe, Jupiter, one behind the other.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That is quite impressive! Can’t see so many planets here this evening. Clouded over. I love the winter skies here though because its so full of stars usually and on special evenings can even see a bit of borealis. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I should check a map to see how we compare latitudinally. Now, it’s dark by 5pm until 7am, roughly. On clear nights, the skies are beautiful. Of course, cloudy nights help to retain some of the heat.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I concur. It appears that you have half the daylight that I have at 43d latitude. That difference would account for the diff in daylight. Have a great day…even if it’s the night sky now 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on A Teacher's Reflections and commented:
    Sometimes the best teachers are not in the classroom. Here is proof. Steve is a crossing guard in New York and makes connections with students in remarkable ways. He calls it quizzes, fun facts and brain teasers- but it is so much more. He is engaging students, waking up their minds. When they leave his crossing, they don’t forget. His presense and curious questions simply ‘stick’, because they’re good and because he is the real deal. Steve, thank you for being such a remarkable teacher. Few make a difference, and you are one.


    1. Jennie, I’m so appreciative of your interest in this story and my efforts. I must admit that you’re in the forefront of my thought when I’m doing my thing. Thank you so much. By the way, with Venus so visible in the morning sky, it was a great lesson in our solar system the last couple of days. The kids pretty much know the planets. Monday, I’ll have a word quiz, ‘how may words can you make from the STOP word on a Stop sign, using all 4 letters. Take a guess. It should be fun.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jennie, thank you and the answer is 4 words can be made from STOP using all 4 letters: TOPS, OPTS, POST and SPOT. I’ll give them until the afternoon crossing to give me answers. Let’s see what they do. 😄🤓


    1. I hope they do. And, yes, the topics are fun, often made up at last moment, some from ‘This Day In History’. But this Monday I’ll ask, ‘how many words can you make from using ALL the letters in the word ‘STOP’? Can you guess?😉

      Liked by 1 person

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