When 8:45 a.m. arrived Tuesday Laura Johnson stepped out of her car and into her role as the Lincoln Avenue Elementary school crossing guard for the start of her 18th year on the post.
The first day of school is the Sayville resident’s first day back to work after summer, and like most of the students and parents she helps cross the street safely, she’s smiling despite the intermittent rain.
“We’re out here in all kinds of weather,” said Johnson, who’s been safely crossing students at Lincoln since her own son entered kindergarten at the school 18 years ago and is also an alumnus of the school. “I’m crossing students whose parents I helped cross the street,” she said with a grin.
During her 20 years of employment as crossing guard, Johnson has pretty much experienced everything the role can involve. The first day back, she said, is a bit busier than most workdays with new students, new parents learning the rules of drop-off and pickup and different timetables for classroom starts.
By next week everything will be much calmer and the few students she sees crying on the first day are typically smiling by then.
“Every year there are a few clingers, who don’t want to let go of their mother’s leg or hand,” Johnson said , recalling that she remembers her own first day at Lincoln Elementary.
On an average day Johnson helps dozens of students cross from the school to the sidewalk and helps direct the car traffic, which can range anywhere from 30 to 100 vehicles, coming through the “stop, kiss and drop” area, depending on the weather.
“We’re here for the safety of the students,” she said as she exchanges hellos with nearly every parent driving through and chats with parents as they wait to cross.
She offered up some tips for new parents, and reminders for those whose children aren’t new to the school.
“Parents need to listen to the guard and pay attention to where to park and not park so that the students are safe. And when you’re in the stop, drop and kiss zone, don’t get out of the car as it can really back up the process,” she advised.
“Everyone just needs to be conscientious of the safety issue and of the students,” she added.