A Parent’s Observation–With Gratitude

By Mary Jo VIero∼
Recently I learned that there is a chance that the crossing guard who watches my son cross the street on his way to school may lose her job. Kathy O’Shea has been watching out for the children at St. Barnabas School every school day–rain or shine, on the very hot days and the extremely cold days–for 27 years. She knows almost every child she crosses by name and also knows their families.
Over the years, Kathy has brought holiday treats for the kids. This spring, she gave gifts to the 8th graders who she will no longer be crossing. Kathy is a very special person, dedicated to keeping neighborhood children safe and helping them feel good about their school experience.
I got to know Kathy when my son was younger and I walked him to school. On my way back home, Kathy and I would usually chat for a few minutes. It was obvious she loves what she does and truly cares about our kids. When my son got older and wanted to walk with his friends instead of his Mom, I did not hesitate to agree. I knew Kathy would be looking out for him. I know Kathy as an extraordinary person, but I can’t help but think there are a lot of crossing guards around the city who have served schools for many years and grown to care about the students and families they see every day. As our city deals with its fiscal problems, changes that affect our communities trickle down. After being a part of the Chicago Police Department, city crossing guards will now become TMAs with the Office of Emergency Management. Kathy and the other crossing guards are not sure how this will affect their jobs. Will these hard working, dedicated em ployees who deserve to keep their jobs lose them to new employees who will work for less pay and no
benefits? Will they be on the job rain or shine? Will they know my son or any of the kids?
According to Kathy, crossing guards have not yet been updated on the status of their contracts. Through the end of the school year, they will cross the kids each day, wondering whether they will return to their same corners next year or be without a job at all.
People ask what they can do to help. I am not sure there is a good answer, but I would start by saying thank you to any crossing guard you see.


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