It's Happening: One Week Out from Start of School, Very Important Position Needs Filled

By Julie Perine on August 07, 2017 from It’s Happening via Connect-Bridgeport.com

UPDATE (Aug. 12): According to City of Bridgeport Personnel Director Jimmy Smith, two individuals have applied for the Johnson Elementary School adult cross guard position, but it has not been filled. Those interested are still welcome to contact him via email to apply.
 
Original post:
Come rain, sleet or snow, students at Bridgeport’s elementary schools are greeted each morning by an adult crossing guard. His or her primary purpose is to ensure safety of the students, head up the school’s student crossing guard unit and keep traffic flowing.
 
But parents know and appreciate that there’s more to the post than that. The men and women who serve in this capacity are also encouragers. During some of the years when my youngest son attended Simpson Elementary School, Lois Jenkins was the adult cross guard. She was the first person we saw upon arrival at school. She was always smiling and welcoming, offering a “good morning” to all who crossed her path. She set the mood for the day and I can’t stress how important that was to me – especially since I was dropping off a little boy who during his earliest years of school did not want to be there. Her pleasant attitude and many times her hugs were reassuring to us and hundreds of students and parents through the years.
 
Lois moved on to serve in other ways. She assists seniors with income tax preparation through her service at Bridgeport Public Library. She is also an active member of Bridgeport Volunteers in Police Services. In April, she received a U.S. Presidential Service Award – a bronze medal – for her hours of service.
 
In recent years, Shirla Atha took over the post at Simpson and I had the pleasure of interacting with her when I dropped off and picked up my granddaughter from Simpson Elementary Pre-K.
 
Shirla told me a couple years ago that she leaves her house around 6:30 a.m. and is in place by 6:50 when the first bus arrives with students. She said on cold mornings, it’s not unusual for a parent to bring her a cup of hot chocolate to warm her up while she’s on duty. She works an hour before school and another hour afterwards when school is dismissed for the day. A great-grandma, Shirla said she loves giving high fives to kids eager to start their school day and is broken hearted for those who are sad and anxious about it. At the close of each school year, Shirla – as did her predecessor – receives a long line of gifts in appreciation for her efforts.
 
This adult cross guard post is a paid position, contracted through the City of Bridgeport. At the present time, there happens to be an opening at Johnson Elementary. My kids didn’t go to Johnson, so I didn’t get to know the cross guards there as well. But I do know Dennis Stromberg and his story. He had served as school principal for years, starting when his daughter Kelsey was a student there. Mr. Stromberg’s wife, Kelsey’s mother had died suddenly and he was glad to be working in the same building where his little girl went to school. He stayed for years after she moved on to Bridgeport Middle School and Bridgeport High School. In 2011, JES Assistant Principal Vicki Huffman took over the principal position. Mr. Stromberg still wanted to be involved and to play a role in the students’ daily lives so he took the cross guard position. I thought that was so very cool.
 
In August of 2016, because of other obligations and interests, Mr. Stromberg decided to move on from the cross guard position. City of Bridgeport Personnel Director Jimmy Smith said a year ago, an individual was hired to work the afternoon shift only, so Mr. Stromberg said he would still take care of the mornings.
 
Now, the city seeks a cross guard to work both mornings and afternoons at JES. The official job description reads: “Assisting in the control of traffic and pedestrians entering and exiting the school facilities.” The job pays a little over $10.50 per hour and benefits include hugs, high fives and an abundance of appreciation for serving a vital role in the school system.
 
“Number 1, it’s important for the safety of our students,” Huffman said. “It is also an important position because it is a link between parents, students, community and our school. Having an adult working with traffic allows me to attend to programmatic issues within the building as well as meet with parents before they go to work.”
 
If the adult cross guard is sick or absent for any reason, Huffman said she makes it a point to be outside in his place.
 
The reason for that is the same reason it’s vital that the city fills this position.
 
“Student safety always comes first,” Huffman said.
 
The individual hired for the position will be trained by Bridgeport Police. School starts Aug. 15 – just a week from Tuesday.
  
If interested in the adult cross guard position at Johnson Elementary, contact Smith at jsmith@bridgeportwv.com
 
Julie Perine can be reached at 304-848-7200, ext. 2 or at julie@connect-bridgeport.com. More "It's Happening" HERE


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