Chicago Public Schools Celebrates Crossing Guard Appreciation Month
14 February 2023
District Honors Dedicated Crossing Guards who Protect Students as they Walk to and From School
CHICAGO – Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is commemorating Crossing Guard Appreciation Month by recognizing more than 600 crossing guards from February 14 to March 14, 2023. Crossing guards play a vital role in ensuring students traverse busy intersections safely and help with the security of students as they arrive and leave school premises.
“Through rain, snow, and sun, our school crossing guards stand ready twice each day to greet, support and ensure the safety of our students across all neighborhoods,” said CPS CEO Pedro Martinez. “We ask residents to join CPS in showing their gratitude to these valued members of our community and exercise caution while driving in school zones.”
Crossing guards help students develop habits that keep them safe as pedestrians or bicyclists, such as looking both ways before crossing roads, navigating intersections, and using crosswalks. According to the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), there are approximately 3,000 pedestrian-involved crashes in the city each year and 16 percent involve children.
“Our focus on student safety starts long before a student ever reaches our school doors and dedicated crossing guards are an essential part of that work,” said CPS Chief of Safety and Security Jadine Chou. “We are so excited to have crossing guards as part of the CPS Safety Team’s comprehensive effort to keep students safe and protected throughout the day, including on their journey to and from school.”
Chicago recognizes Crossing Guard Appreciation Month each year from February 14 to March 14. CPS will join the City’s celebration by recognizing crossing guards during the February Board of Education meeting on February 22. Our month-long celebration will culminate in the announcement of the District’s Crossing Guard of the Year. The competition will launch in early March and students, staff and community residents will be invited to nominate their favorite crossing guard(s) by submitting a nomination to the Office of Safety and Security. The District will announce our School Crossing Guard of the Year during a celebration in the spring.
Meet Some of CPS’ School Crossing Guards
Eugenia Phillips has worked as a crossing guard for 47 years. Phillips, the longest-serving crossing guard with CPS, stands on 103rd St. and Morgan helping generations of students and families at Marcus Garvey Elementary School. “What I like most about being a crossing guard is knowing that I play a vital role in my community,” said Eugenia Phillips. “Also, my work schedule has allowed me to have the work-life balance that I've desired.”
Omega Lewis has only been a crossing guard for a year. She is stationed on 45th street and south Kedzie where she greets students headed to Columbia Explorer Academy. “I love it and I’m even learning Spanish,” said Omega Lewis. “Most parents understand English but I use Google Translate for the few who don’t and understand a few phrases in Spanish.”
This year Lily Miranda will have served as a crossing guard for 20 years in Pilsen at 18th Street and Paulina for Peter Cooper Dual Language Academy.
“I love interacting with the kids; I see them grow up,” said Lily Miranda. “Sometimes I feel like a grandma to all these little kids I’ve seen growing up, going on to high school or college, some of them getting married or just moving on with their lives. They all remember me and sometimes they come and say hello.”
Tammy Anderson makes an impact in Washington Park with her dance moves and passionate waves as she helps students from Beasley Academic Center cross the street. Since 2016, rain or shine, the mother of three spreads her cheer on 53rd and State Street. “It brings me joy to see people's faces brighten as I dance,” said Tammy Anderson. “There is nothing like making my children smile as they get through their school day.”
Some CPS crossing guards also work to make the holiday season extra special.
Crossing Guard, Angela Thompson, who guides students and families across the corner of 61st Street and South Cottage Grove, has been donating gifts to students at John Fiske Elementary School for the past 16 years. Friends, family, and even strangers have helped her ensure that every child at Fiske has a toy during the holidays.
During the holiday season, crossing guard Gail Williams wears a different holiday-themed hat every day in December. Williams makes some of the hats and embellishes others to celebrate the holiday season with the children at her post.on her path. Williams has covered the corner of West 66th Street and South California Avenue for Marquette Elementary School over the past eight years. “The neighbors tell me, ‘we know you are out here when we hear that whistle,” said Gail Williams. “I get enjoyment out of knowing that I’m protecting and serving the smallest people in Chicago.”
Crossing guards like Eugenia, Omega, Lily, Tammy, Angela, and Gail serve as a visual reminder to motorists to slow down in school zones where children are crossing and help students learn safe pedestrian habits, such as looking both ways before stepping onto the road and walking bikes across the street. CPS’ crossing guards work to ensure the safety of families and children by regulating traffic at designated intersections, guiding, and assisting children and other pedestrians when crossing the street, and reporting unsafe conditions or incidents to CPS.
CDOT created Children’s Safety Zones in an effort to slow motorists down to 20 miles an hour in areas around schools. Other safety reminders for motorists in school safety zones include:
- Check crosswalks when turning.
- Don’t just look for oncoming traffic – check for pedestrians.
- Stop for people in crosswalks.
- State Law: Drivers MUST STOP for people walking at crosswalks not just intersections with traffic lights or stop signs.
- Be aware of crossing guards and obey their directions.
- Crossing guards wear brightly colored and highly reflective clothing while on duty so that they are visible in traffic and during inclement weather.
- Crossing guards use hand-held stop signs while walking out in the street to alert drivers that children and pedestrians of all ages are crossing.
- Drive according to conditions.
- Overall visibility is limited in bad weather conditions. Not only is it more difficult for drivers to see oncoming pedestrians, but it is also more difficult for pedestrians. Allow enough time for pick-up and drop-off. When we’re running late, we’re running a risk. Rushing is dangerous.
- Never maneuver around stopped traffic in a school zone.
- Double parking around school zones decreases safety for everyone. Check with schools about pick-up and drop-off policies.
- Make sure car lights are on and signals are properly used. Use extra caution in these circumstances.
- Texting and talking on a cell phone while driving slows reaction time.
- Just drive. Avoid unnecessary distractions.
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About Chicago Public Schools
Chicago Public Schools serves more than 322,000 students in 635 schools. It is the nation’s fourth-largest school district.