A Safe Crossing 19

Draper’s Crossing Guards Like Keeping Kids Safe, Dislike Distracted Drivers

Sandy Smith

Channing Hall Crossing Guard

Every day, and especially every holiday, Sandy Smith misses her nine grandchildren. Luckily, she has a few hundred kids at Channing Hall who make great substitutes.

“They’re all my grandkids,” says the crossing guard of 6½ years. Chatting with her young charges makes her day, and she loves the thank-you’s she receives as she safely escorts them across the street.

Since her grandkids live in West Virginia—where she was born and raised—her surrogate Channing Hall “grandkids” reap those treats Grandmas like to give, especially around the holidays. For Christmas she hands out candy canes, for St. Patrick’s Day it’s green Andes Mints, for Valentine’s Day heart-shaped suckers.

“You have to be careful with the allergies,” she says, “but I haven’t found one kid yet who is allergic to suckers or to chocolate.” Many of her former kids—now in middle school and high school—just happen to drop by on holidays and tell her, “We knew you’d have something.”

She patrols the crosswalk in front of the school, starting at 6:45 a.m. and then returns for after-school patrol. Besides the kids, it’s the job’s flexibility she likes.

What she doesn’t care for are hurried, multi-tasking drivers. “If more people slowed down, paid attention to the children and not their cell phone, things would be so much better,” she says and adds that she is prepared to protect her kids no matter what.

“The children are the most important thing in the world,” she says. “Watch for them.”

Stephanie Christensen

Substitute Crossing Guard at various Draper schools

If your kids attended Oak Hollow, Channing Hall, Willow Springs or Summit Academy—just to name a few—Stephanie Christensen has helped them arrive safely.

The Draper resident and mom of three has been a crossing guard for 10 years, the first seven of which she worked three crossing shifts a day. Then she narrowed it down to two. Now, she works as a substitute guard between her full-time job as hall monitor at Alta High school.

“It is a very satisfying job, working with the little kids, seeing how excited they are for school, getting to know their personalities,” she says.

The only thing that bothers her is the weather, mostly the extremes of 95 degree heat or snow gusts. Crazy, impatient drivers also bother her.

“It blows my mind,” she says seeing drivers try to move around her or tear by at 40 mph. She isn’t afraid to call the police on them, either.

“Slow down and have more patience,” she says. “Kids need to get across safely. They shouldn’t be scared to have to cross the street.”

Michelle Saunders

Draper Elementary and Juan Diego

Draper resident Michelle Saunders has a busier morning than most people. After getting her four kids out the door and sometimes skipping her breakfast, she holds down two crossing guards shifts, the first at Juan Diego High School and the other at Draper Elementary.

She’s been keeping kids safe in the early hours for 10 years.

“It’s a tight squeeze, but I make it to both (jobs) on time,” she says.

Saunders says that it is a delight to get to know the kids and to see them every day. Sometimes in the dead of winter, wrapped in layers and handwarmers stuck into gloves, she wonders what she is doing out there, but not for too long. “We do our best,” she says.

As with the other guards, she dislikes disrespectful drivers, those who have an attitude that crossing guards are stopping them as an inconvenience.

She says to everyone on the road: “Slow down, be aware. See the cones in the streets, the lights flashing and know that there are kids crossing there.”

Valaine Brown

Willow Springs Elementary

Crossing and chemo.

Two and a half years ago, Valaine Brown’s daily routine revolved around these two activities following a breast cancer diagnosis. Each morning, she’d go to her crossing guard position at Willow Springs Elementary, then head to chemo treatment afterward. Her crossing guard job “was a way to have a focus, to get out of the house,” she says.

Early one day, she arrived at her crosswalk to find a bucket with a sign that read “For Crossing Guard: Put Flowers Here.” One by one, the kids arrived, each placing a rose into that bucket. At her shift’s end, she had collected 80 roses, not to mention homemade “Get Well” cards and signs.

She went to chemo that day, renewed.

“It really touched me,” says the lifelong Draper resident. “It was so sweet.”

She’s now in her fifth year working the morning and afternoon crossing shifts, as well as working as a lunch aide at Willow Springs.  “It’s a busy part-time, full-time job,” she jokes.

Like other crossing guards, texting drivers bother her. But, she loves the kids, and the convenience of walking to and from her job.

Most of all, she cherishes the sweet things kids say to her. One of her favorite kids is a boy named Carter, who, everyday without fail, tells her, “Thank you. Have a nice day.” She credits parents for teaching their children well.

“The kids are all so kind and have good manners,” she says. “I make sure I tell the kids that, too.”