Local crossing guard loves her job of 40 yearsSep 23, 2020 02:34PM ● By Bill Hardesty
A 40-year school crossing guard, Helen Singer, and her 40-year-old stop sign. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)
By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]
“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” While this is the unofficial motto for United States Postal Service workers, just change “couriers” to “school crossing guards,” and the same motto applies to them.
One such school crossing guard who has braved the elements and helped children cross the street safely for 40 years is Helen Singer, who is out every day holding her original stop sign.
She keeps a newer one in the car just in case the original one breaks. Such is an example of how Singer lives her life—keep going until you can’t.
Singer is a South Salt Lake native and has lived on the same street for all her 69 years.
For 20 years, she worked at 2700 South and State Street but when they built the new Woodrow Wilson Elementary on Main Street, Singer’s new duty station is across from the school on Stratford Avenue.
“I love my job,” Singer said.
Singer is so committed to the safety of schoolchildren that when a few years ago her adult son was taken to the hospital, Singer stayed at her post until her shift was finished and then went to the hospital.
“Helen is the most dedicated and punctual employee I’ve ever seen. She’s determined to never miss work. It is very easy to supervise Helen since she is such a good employee. She’s very dedicated to her job and the children who she crosses,” said Sgt. Bill Hogan of the SSLPD, who supervises the crossing guard program.
Singer took the job because she could be home in the evenings with her husband and children.
One thing she misses in our pandemic world are the hugs she would get from the children. On those rare days, when she isn’t at her post, the children ask her the next day where she was.
Singer’s times are 8:30 to a bit after 9 a.m., to catch those children running late. Her other assignment is from 3:30 to 4:00 p.m. Because of the modified school schedule, she only works Monday through Thursday.
Because of falling enrollment and more children being driven to school, there aren’t as many children as there use to be. Singer says there are more kids in the afternoon.
When asked what advice she would give to a new crossing guard, Singer offered four items: be on time; dress appropriately for the weather; no smoking; and no swearing around the children.
- Weather can be tough to take, especially in the winter, she said. “It is a bit tricky with the ice, but the neighbors are good shoveling off the snow for me.”
Singer plans to continue her job for as long as she can.
“I am happy, and I am in good health,” she said.
Singer’s biggest complaint is the traffic.
“Too many cars don’t slow down. They don’t obey the school lights,” Singer said.
Crossing guard requirements
Currently, SSLPD has one opening for a school crossing guard. The responsibilities are simple: assist children in crossing streets safely while they travel to and from school. Guards also must place warning cones on the street and turn school crossing zone lights on and off.
The weather can be challenging since it is outside work. It also requires walking and standing.
The job requires 10 hours a week and employees are paid a $687 monthly stipend. People interested can apply at sslc.com under the My Quick Links tab.