If you went to school here in Mt. Lebanon, you no doubt have memories about the smiling crossing guards stationed throughout your walk to school, rain or shine or snow, to help you cross the street safely. As a bus-less school district, Mt. Lebanon is already fairly unique, but the quality of our incredible team of enthusiastic crossing guards is truly special.
The crossing guards are one of the most visible segments of the Mt. Lebanon Police Department, and they fill 42 posts around the municipality. Right now, these posts are covered by a total of 55 dedicated men and women: 43 are regular guards and the rest are substitute guards.
What motivates them? A lot, it turns out. Last week, we attended the end-of-year thank you brunch for the crossing guards to find out why they put on the vest, hat and badge every school day of the calendar year. Here are some of their reasons:
- They are retired and looking for something to do:
“I live in the area. When I retired, I just really wanted to do something. I’ve seen the crossing guards around, and I thought ‘I could do that!’ It’s a part-time job, and it’s very rewarding. The kids and the parents are great.” —Peggy Rothert, retired City of Pittsburgh police officer and Mt. Lebanon crossing guard for 10 years (currently a substitute due to an injury)
- They are looking to supplement their income:
“I like the people, even when I don’t like the 10-degree weather. I also work for the sense of accomplishment. And it’s good pay!” —John Montgomery, substitute Mt. Lebanon crossing guard for six years
- They want to do something important:
“You get a lot of respect in this job … I was pleasantly surprised to find that [the kids] are very friendly and polite … The job itself is intimidating, but it’s a good job and you get used to it.” —Fred McDermott, first-year Mt. Lebanon crossing guard stationed in front of the high school
- They are looking for something that complements their lifestyle:
“I wanted to get out and do something … I worked for UPS for 24 years, so I just wanted to make some money while getting out of the house … I decided to be a substitute crossing guard because I travel quite a bit … But still, in this year alone, I think I worked about 94 days as a substitute.” —William Slezak, substitute Mt. Lebanon crossing guard for eight years
- They want to make a difference in their community:
“I’m stationed at the corner of Cedar and Salem, where there are definitely more cars than children. Someone was hit by a car there a couple years ago. It’s dangerous. But I’ve been there a long time, and I’m used to it. The traffic doesn’t even bother me anymore and I’m very happy there.” —Rick Strauch, Mt. Lebanon crossing guard for six years
- They want to meet new people:
“We know each other from being crossing guards, actually! It’s great. I would say I’m better for it.—Rick Strauch about his friend, William Slezak
- They love working with children:
“I retired and knew I needed something part-time and my friend suggested this to me. I thought, ‘Being a crossing guard could be fun, and I love children’ … The kids are all so well behaved. Even when the parents aren’t around, they listen to me! There are so many upsides to this job. It can be flexible, you have the middle of each day off, plus the entire summer and weekends … The only downside is the weather, and if you can handle that, it’s great!” —Roberta Krawczyk, Mt. Lebanon crossing guard for two years, stationed on Shady Drive and Castle Shannon Boulevard
The police department is now accepting crossing guard applicants for the 2017-18 school year. Applicants do not have to live here, but are required to attend an annual training seminar in August, be able to work 2 1/2 to 4 hours each school day, have a valid PA driver’s license, be willing to become familiar with the school guard manual and be assertive, alert, cognizant and confident.
Sharon Kroner, the school guard supervisor, would be happy to answer questions. She can be reached at email@example.com.
“The primary job of a crossing guard is to guide children safely across the street and to be a role model in helping children to develop the skills necessary to cross the streets safely at all times,” says Kroner. “The job is ideal for anyone who loves children and looks forward to a ‘hello’ or a ‘how is your day’ or a ‘thank you for crossing me!’ Anyone who wants a wave from a child who looks up to you, knowing that yours might be the first smile they see in a day.”
Photography by Judy Macoskey.