A Thanks for Safe Passage

If you know me, you know how much I love educators and people who dedicate themselves to making a difference in the lives of young people. This story is part of some volunteer work I do for my son’s PTA, but it moved me so much to bear witness to this moment that I wanted to share it with you. The most bittersweet part was how much it meant to her to be seen.

If there is someone who brightens your day or makes a difference in your or your child’s life, don’t wait for someone to give you the opportunity to tell them. Tell them now.

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Williston Middle School crossing guard Terry Warren was lamenting that “her babies,” this year’s eighth graders, were going to be gone in June, when she saw it:

The bouquet of flowers, coming across the crosswalk in the hands of PTA president Charlrean Batten Mapson.

Ms. Warren, a crossing guard of 16 years, knew immediately what was happening.

And almost immediately she began to cry.

For 16 years she has ushered students at Forest Hills, Winter Park, Gregory, and most recently Williston into their school days.

And for 16 years she has used her ordinary position to make an extraordinary difference.

In the mornings you can find her on 10th Street in front of Williston, directing traffic like a seasoned orchestra conductor, waving kids out of minivans and sternly raising her battered stop sign for speeding motorists before swiveling to cast a warm smile and a big wave to other drivers.

She is a master of her craft.

But you will also find her calling the boys off the nearby basketball court ten minutes before the bell like the grandmother they wouldn’t want to disappoint.

Or standing on the curb, tenderly braiding the hair of a girl who wasn’t ready to start her day.

Or shaking her head in empathy as a student ever-so-slowly approaches the crosswalk, his head hanging low.

“He’s not a morning child,” she says quietly, before raising her voice to encourage him along.

“C’mon baby,” she waves. “You’re going to have a great day!”

Her work takes place outside of the school walls, but she is part of the fabric of the Williston community.

Because of her, students know, before they even cross the threshold of the school, that they are loved.


Cared for.


And so, Ms. Warren learned this morning, she is the Williston Staff Member of the Month for September, a recognition that includes a $100 check from the PTA.

“I feel overwhelmed,” she said. “I am so happy to know that I am loved by the parents and the staff and the students. Bless you.”

Tears wiped away, she smiled as she packed her flowers and stop sign into her car. “I am glad to be a crossing guard, and I am an un-ordinary crossing guard.”

Yes, ma’am, you are.