KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
September 6, 2022
By Natalie Cook Clark and Katrina Katsarelis
With Katy's quickly growing population comes increased traffic, students, and cars traveling through school zones. With more than 90,000 in Katy ISD, crossing guards have never been more in need to navigate the flow of traffic and help get kids safely to and from school. The silver lining for many of the crossing guards we spoke to, is the connections they form with kids and parents, while safety getting them to and from the school.
Katy ISD has around 200 dedicated and trained crossing guards, in addition to teachers/staff that help fill this role to keep the District's over 90,000 students safe.
Finding Joy in the Job
Working in rain, extreme heat, and muggy Texas conditions may not appeal to a lot of people, but for many crossing guards, the positives far outweigh the negatives. Laura Holt, mother of two daughters, served as a crossing guard at Wolman Elementary for 8 years, and is one of those people that finds joy in her everyday job.
"My favorite part about being a crossing guard was all of the hugs and sweet, high-fives I got every morning and every afternoon, as the kiddos started and ended their day," says Holt who even had a tradition of celebrating kids birthdays (when they would tell her). "I would draw them a “birthday sign with a 'chalk cake' and tell them to blow out their birthday candles and make a wish, and sing happy birthday to them when they crossed."
Photo credit: Laura Holt
Holt says she also enjoyed getting to know kids, the parents and even sometimes the grandparents, "It was a huge blessing and it gave parents a lot of trust in me knowing that they could depend on me to make sure their kids got to school safely," says Holt.
Sheila Newcome has been a crossing guard since 2018 and is the mother of three daughters. Currently a crossing guard at WoodCreek Junior High, Newcome says that Katy's fast growth has presented some new challenges. "It keeps getting more and more congested, and more and more people think that the rules don't pertain to them. Newcome says her biggest issues are parents and drivers not paying attention when she puts up her signs in stopping and no parking areas and picking up their kids without going through the pick up line.
Things Crossing Guards Love
They love drivers who drive slow in school zones
It's true that 20 mph feels like slow motion, but crossing guards feel very strongly about this one. "When we we ask parents to stop or slow down, it’s because children are our top priority. We are not stopping them to inconvenience them," explains Holt.
They love students and parents that obey their directions
Dangerous situations can happen when parents and students try to bypass their instructions, and by law, crossing guards have a right to direct traffic in the school zone.
They love it when parents drive 20 mph
When we we ask parents to stop or slow down, it’s because our children are our top priority. We are not stopping them to inconvenience parents I promise
They love parents that use the drop off line appropriately
"Often, when we are directing traffic to go through an intersection, if one car just stops suddenly and drops their kiddos off, they can get rear-ended easily,"
They love courteous and attentive drivers, students and parents.
Newcome says when people only focus on themselves and their time, It shows the students they don't have to follow the rules and makes it very difficult for crossing guards. Please teach your children courtesy and respect for the crossing guards and their rules.
They love your children
Although many crossing guards enjoy getting hugs, high fives, or hearing funny stories from students, the ones we talked to say their most important job is keeping kids safe. And that is the part of the job they take very seriously.
Who are Crossing Guards?
Katy ISD has around 200 dedicated and trained crossing guards. Some teachers and staff are also trained to serve in this area, especially to meet the demands of the recent and ongoing growth.
“Many Katy ISD crossing guards are citizens of the District’s community,” says Chief Henry Gaw, Chief of Police for Katy ISD. “Along with keeping our Katy ISD students safe, they love and enjoy meeting them every day.”
Katy ISD crossing guards play an important role in the lives of children who walk or ride their bikes to school. Their presence also reminds community members that during certain hours that everyone should be focused on safety around the school. Chief Gaw says that most concerns involve distracted drivers and high traffic where students and drivers don’t always abide by traffic laws.
A Day in the Life of a Crossing Guard
Typically, crossing guards work 2.5 hours in the morning and 2.5 hours in the afternoon assisting students and pedestrians in safely crossing all thoroughfares. They also control the flow of traffic and inform Katy ISD Police of any unsafe vehicles at their campuses. They pay range is $15 for each shift session and there are currently several openings at various Katy campuses. Apply online.
“In school zones, there can be many moving parts,” says Chief Gaw. “Whether a parent is walking or driving their kid(s) to school, they should always be aware and alert of their surroundings.” Chief Gaw stresses that students and parents should always use the designated walking areas and to never cross in the middle of the street or between cars.
Katy ISD Encourages Students to use District Transportation
“As Katy ISD’s enrollment continues to grow, parents are encouraged to use the District’s transportation if child is an eligible rider,” says Chief Gaw.
Chief Gaw also encourages families to help each other out and use carpools to and from school campuses. “This will mitigate traffic congestion and help keep students and crossing guards safe,” says Gaw.
Katy ISD police do identify and help crossing guards at high traffic areas. Parents and students should always listen and follow the crossing guard. “Even though students see their campus crossing guard for just a few minutes, before and after school, these individuals give parents peace of mind when it comes to students walking or riding their bikes to school,” says Chief Gaw.