Horizon West resident and crossing guard Tracy Lewis hopes to encourage more people to become school crossing guards.
As Tracy Lewis blows her whistle and holds up a reflective stop sign to the cars around her, she looks over her shoulder to the children waiting on the sidewalk.
“Look and go!” she calls out to them, as they begin to walk across the street toward Keene’s Crossing Elementary.
Decked out in a reflective vest, brightly colored gloves and an orange hat, Lewis knows her role as a crossing guard isn’t only about keeping Orange County students and families safe. It’s also about making a difference in their lives.
Originally from Minnesota, Lewis said the concept of a crossing guard was new to her after moving to Florida. It wasn’t until she saw the impact a crossing guard made in her son’s life that she decided she wanted to become one, too.
“A few years ago, my son — he’s in 10th grade at Windermere High right now — when he was at SunRidge, he’d walk to school,” Lewis said. “He was always so excited to see the crossing guard, because she’s had such a positive impact on his morning. He had a lot of good things to say about her.”
When her husband, a police officer, brought home a brochure from a job fair about becoming a school crossing guard, Lewis knew she wanted to help. She applied online and attended training, and she is now in her second year serving as a crossing guard for both Keene’s Crossing Elementary and Bridgewater Middle.
“For me, it’s not about just keeping them safe — it’s helping them to learn how to cross,” she said. “Sometimes, cars don’t stop, let’s just be real — a lot of times I notice they’re on their phone … and just aren’t paying attention to their surroundings, so sometimes, they just don’t stop. The drivers are pretty decent, but sometimes, you get the one or two. The students are really awesome at listening and waiting until I say, ‘Let’s go.’”
The children Lewis crosses now know they aren’t supposed to step out into the crosswalks until she tells them it is safe. And many of them have learned to look before they cross, too.
“It’s about their safety and teaching them, but for me, it’s even more,” Lewis said. “We all want to feel like we matter. I get the opportunity to notice these kids and say hi, and you start to get to know them and their families, if they had a good or bad day, and more. It’s so much more than just the safety part.”
Lewis’ morning begins at Keene’s Crossing at 8 a.m. By 9 a.m., she’s at Bridgewater. The Horizon West resident rides her bike to and from her crossing-guard duties, and she works as a guard for a total of four hours each day.
She always ensures she’s making a positive impact on students’ lives, asking them how they’re doing and chatting with them about what they did in school that day.
Lewis loves her role as a crossing guard and knows Orange County is in need of more of them. She encourages anyone interested to find more information and apply.
“We need them so badly — (especially) because of the schools that are opening in our community in Horizon West,” she said. “(They’re needed) in our community, in Orange County in general, but all over. They’re always hiring. The hours are awesome, and it’s good extra play money.”