ANDERSON -- When retiree Craig Scott was first asked about serving as a Terre Haute school crossing guard, his reaction was, “I didn’t know if I wanted to be tied down.”

That was nine years ago.

And he’s still helping school children safely cross the street at 19th and Oak streets, both to get to school, and then to return home.

He doesn’t do it for the money. The program, operated by the Terre Haute Police Department traffic division, pays $2,700 per year. The city funds the program.

Scott does it “because of the kids,” he said. He recalls the time a child gave him a hug and asked, “Would you be my dad?” The child came from a single parent home.

Careful crossing

Tribune-Star/Austen LeakeRight this way: Craig Scott helps a group of Davis Park Elementary School students across 19th Street on Monday afternoon.

He doesn’t get to spend a lot of time with the students, yet he often develops close relationships with them.

“I can’t get over the smiles on their faces going to school in the morning,” Scott said. “I don’t remember that,” he said, reflecting on his own school-going days.

For many years, he was a crossing guard for Deming Elementary, and now, he’s at Davis Park Elementary. He’ll help any children that might need assistance, including students from Saint Patrick’s School.

“I don’t think people realize how important a job it is. I didn’t until I had the experiences I’ve had” seeing drivers run through stop signs at the intersection, he said.

It might happen twice a day, or twice a week. “They’re not paying attention,” said Scott, who is retired from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Reclamation.

While he’s not at the intersection for very long, maybe about one-half hour twice a day, “They depend on you being here. You just can’t call in sick every other day. They have to have somebody on that corner,” Scott said. 

The city is in immediate need of crossing guards at three schools, Fuqua, Deming and Devaney, said Kelli Kennedy, clerk with the city police traffic division.

“We would like someone who cares about children and shows up to work every day school is in session,” she said. The city has 27 slots for crossing guards, with 24 filled.

The crossing guards are located at elementary schools in Terre Haute city limits, she said. They play a critical role “making sure kids get to and from school safely.”

They are located at busy intersections and highly congested areas.

To apply, those interested can go to the Terre Haute Police Department Facebook page, where there is a link to the city’s web site.

Careful crossing

Tribune-Star/Austen LeakeProtecting our youth: Morris Wheeler helps Davis Park Elementary School students cross Poplar Street on Monday afternoon.

Not too far from Scott, another crossing guard also was back at the job for another school year.

At Poplar and 19th streets, crossing guard Morris Wheeler, who will be 87, donned his bright yellow reflective vest and carried a small stop sign as he, too, helped children safely get home Monday afternoon.

He’s been a crossing guard for 25 years. “My wife passed away and I don’t have anything to do, so I do this,” he said. He enjoys being around the children.

“They’re all good kids,” he said.

Last year, he was greeted by a woman who remembered how he used to help her cross the street, and she is now married with her own children.

Wheeler, too, asks the driving public to “be careful” and watch out for the crossing guards – and the children.