‘The more I do it, the more I love it’: Substitute crossing guards wanted in St. George

ST. GEORGE — Like many jobs in the market these days, there is a shortage of applicants for school crossing guards.

Stock image | Photo by jserum/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

“It’s a great job, but unfortunately there hasn’t been interest in it from the community,” St. George Police Sgt. Tyrell Bangerter, who oversees the crossing guards, said Monday.

The Police Department has been looking to hire both permanent and substitute crossing guards since June, and while most of the permanent spots have been filled, there is still a spot open for a regular crossing guard and four or five substitute or alternate positions, Bangerter said

Regular crossing guards cover the times when elementary school children walk to and from school in the morning, noon and afternoon, with around an hour spent working crosswalks at these times. Alternates are called in to help cover shifts much like a substitute teacher, or a regular crossing guard may only able to cover two times out of the day and not all three, Bangerter said.

When the alternates are unavailable, it falls to crossing guard coordinator Isaac Archbold to take up the yellow vest and hand-held stop sign so the children using the crosswalk remain safe. Even though it doesn’t fall into his normal duties, he said there are several reasons he enjoys filling in.

“You get to know a lot of the kids,” he said, adding that parents and community members in general also share their appreciation for the crossing guards.

If more than one area needs to be covered on a given day, it tends to fall to members of St. George Police animal control and other police officers such as Bangerter to fill the absence.

“We’ve got to make sure we have someone there during all of those crossings,” Bangerter said.

Basic requirements for becoming a crossing guard are being over 18, having a valid driver license and being physically mobile. An interview process and background check are also involved. The hourly pay starts at $14.89.

“It’s a good job for a lot of people,” Bangerter said. “It’s not a hard job at all.”

There are a total of 23 crosswalk location across St. George. Debbie White was working the crossings by Panorama Elementary School at 350 North and 2200 East as school let out Monday.

Crossing guard Debbie White at the crosswalk by Panorama Elementary School, St. George, Utah, Oct. 11, 2021 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

White has been a crossing guard in St. George for about 2 1/2 years, but she also served as one in South Jordan for a few years prior to moving to Southern Utah.

“I do this because I love it,” White said. “The more I do it, the more I love it. … If I could do more here, I would.”

White said it was a great job for her since she was retired, and she encourages other retirees to do the same. She also said it had helped her get to knew the children and their parents and others in the community.

Nearby, at the crosswalk on 2450 East at the 350 South intersection, Deena Croxford said much the same.

“It’s been more rewarding than I ever thought possible,” she said. “I love these kids and love what they give back to me.”

Crossing guard Deena Croxford speaks to St. George News while crossing guard coordinator Isaac Archbold helps students across the street at the crosswalk at the 2450 East at the 350 South intersection in St. George, Utah, Oct. 11, 2021 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Croxford added that becoming a crossing guard is a great way to give back to the community and also encourages others to looking into the job.

“I wouldn’t think twice about it,” she said. “I don’t know why people don’t want to do it.”

Like any job, there are challenges that come with being a crossing guard. Bangerter, Archbold, White and Croxford each said those challenges primarily came from drivers who are in a hurry, distracted or some measure of both.

Sometimes parents picking up their children from school are primarily focused on that task and don’t pay needed attention to other children leaving school on foot.

Other times people don’t slow down or stop at crosswalks, driving through before everyone is safely out of the way.

This occurred while St. George News was at a crosswalk location by Little Valley Elementary, which is considered to be the busiest crosswalk in St. George and is manned by Elisabet Tapia. She was still in the crosswalk when a truck passed by her. Utah law requires motorists to wait until everyone has left the crosswalk before they drive through – even if their own lane is open at the time.

Crossing guard Elisabet Tapia at the crosswalk by Little Valley Elementary School, which is considered to be the busiest crosswalk in St. George, Utah, Oct. 11, 2021 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Bangerter said there have been “several close calls” with the crossing guards.

Despite those issues, Croxford and White still say they love their jobs.

“Think about the kids, think about the needs of the community,” White said. “I feel a part of something bigger. I can help. I can do what I can to help further our community, and it just feels good.”

Croxford added, “Come out and join us. You’ll love it.”

For those interested in applying to become a substitute crossing guard, visit the careers section of the City of St. George website for additional details and requirements concerning the position.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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