By Heather Abrey
Kitchener Post staff
Come rain, sleet, snow or hail, they’re out there on the street. Assuming school isn’t cancelled, that is.
Crossing guards brave all sorts of weather and sometimes the threat of inattentive drivers, all to make sure students get safely across the road.
They were kept particularly busy on Feb. 15, celebrating both Crossing Guard Appreciation Day and Winter Walking Day. Students were encouraged to walk to school and to appreciate the 200 crossing guards across Waterloo Region that help them get to school safely.
Dawn Rees has been carrying out this duty at the corner of Bechtel Drive and Pioneer Drive for the last 16 years and still enjoys the job.
“I like kids, I like to be out in the public,” she said, noting that she’s very active and wouldn’t want to be cooped up at home all day. “I used to teach Brownies and things like that.”
The children are the highlight of the job, and Rees knows the first name of every student she helps across the street, often chatting or joking with them. She has had the chance to see some students from junior kindergarten until the time they graduate, and some have even returned as adults to say hello or show off children of their own.
“I can grow with them,” she said.
But for all the positives of the job, being a crossing guard can be treacherous.
“It’s not a real easy job, you know. Especially here,” said Rees. “It’s just me and my stop sign. I don’t have a light or anything.”
While Pioneer Drive has a 50 km/h speed limit, cars seem to go much faster. Some don’t respect the stop sign that Rees carries in her hand, and a few years back she was clipped by a vehicle.
She escaped serious injury, but her leg hurt for some time as she recovered.
Still, Rees gets smiles every day and has made some longtime friends through the job. On Valentine’s Day a parent brought her a heart-shaped pizza, and many greeted her by name with a smile.