Crossing guard Claudette McKessey has helped students cross the street safely for 18 years in Lewisville. (Photo by Christina Ulsh)

Stoplights had yet to be installed at Garden Ridge and Valley Parkway when Claudette McKessey began her role there 18 years ago as crossing guard for the Lewisville Police Department. She has since helped generations of students cross the street. Currently McKessey guards the crosswalk in front of Huffines Middle School twice a day, Monday through Friday.

Huffines middle schoolers cross the street after school Tuesday, Nov.  13. (Photo by Christina Ulsh)
Huffines middle schoolers cross the street after school Tuesday, Nov. 13. (Photo by Christina Ulsh)

“I’m vigilant when it comes to traffic and kids,” McKessey said of the nearly 100 students she helps cross a day. “I don’t want to to see anything happen to them. They’re like my babies.”

LPD is searching to fill three crossing guard positions, enough openings for the department to consider it a shortage. LPD said the role could fit within the lifestyle of a stay-at-home parent or a recently retired person, specifically those looking for supplemental income.

The job is seasonal and coordinates with Lewisville ISD’s student vacation calendar. Crossing guard supervisor Larry Carlson said he and the guards get summer, two weeks in December, Thanksgiving and Spring Break off. Those applying should be able to handle the weather of the day.

In the early 70s, it was a volunteer role filled by students, Captain Mike Lane said. Now it’s a job with 37 crossing posts that offers $12 an hour at 15 to 17 hours a week.

“We don’t put our kids in harm’s way anymore,” Lane said.

Claudette McKessey makes her way back to the middle school corner after helping a batch of students across the street. (Photo by Christina Ulsh)
Claudette McKessey makes her way back to the middle school corner after helping a batch of students across the street. (Photo by Christina Ulsh)

McKessey said her biggest challenge as a guard is traffic and the drivers who don’t pay attention to street signs. While officer’s check on the posts regularly and arrive when summoned, sometimes those violating the law get away.

“My job is not to direct traffic, my job is to take care of the kids,” McKessey said.

Carlson, who is a retired LPD officer and has worked for the City of Lewisville for a combined 35 years, has been standing at the unfilled posts that alternate guards cannot cover. He said while he doesn’t mind bouncing from post to post, it makes it harder for him to supervise the existing guards and make sure everybody has the support they need for their shift. LPD won’t leave a post unattended.

Having the crossing guard work the intersection instead of dedicating an officer to the post allows the department to have a strong response force, Traffic Sgt. Paul Barron said, as calls for service don’t stop when school lets out for the day.

Because the position is through the police department, applicants go through a similar process as the officers and dispatchers when they apply. This includes a functional capacity test, a physical, a drug test and a background investigation.

“They’re all working with children and our main priority is to keep those children safe and get them across the street safe to school,” Carlson said.

McKessey’s impact on the school personnel was demonstrated after her shift Tuesday afternoon when Huffines principal Estella Rupard brought the Huffines choir and orchestra to her intersection and played Christmas carols for her enjoyment. This was Rupard’s gift to McKessey.

“She does a lot for us. She’s here every morning . She’s here every afternoon,” Rupard said. “She crosses and she knows the kids.”

McKessey said she plans to stand her post for as long as her legs will work.

To apply go online or call the police department at 940-219-3600 if you have any questions.