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The City Journals

East Midvale Crossing Guard Recognized for Quality, Quantity Service

Jul 01, 2016 09:05AM ● By Julie Slama

Students handed flowers to East Midvale crossing guard Barbara Johnson and gave her hugs on May 4 as she was honored for 38 years of service. —Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Fourth-grader Novalee Mounteer crossed the street to East Midvale Elementary as she has on other days, but on the morning of May 4, it was special.

Barbara Johnson was being honored for her 38 years as the school crossing guard on National Walk to School Day.

“She’s so nice and sweet and pretty,” Novalee said. “But she tells you to stop if you want to run across the street and not cross with her.”

That’s the same memory RJ Graham had from Johnson’s early days as a crossing guard.

“I’d want to just dart across and she wouldn’t let me cross except at the crosswalk,” he said.

Kim Shell recalled how Johnson helped her cross years ago.

“As a kid, I just lived down the street, and if I would start to cross not at the crosswalk, she’d just shake her head,” she said. “Now I have a sixth-grader and third-grader she crosses, and I know she’s wishing them ‘good morning’ just like she did to me and making sure they get across to school safely.”

Johnson, who lives right across the street from East Midvale Elementary, was honored at her post with a plaque from the Utah Department of Transportation.

Canyons School District superintendent Jim Briscoe thanked Johnson.

“This is so exciting to celebrate the hard work and dedication you’ve given to keep school children safe for 40 years,” he said. “On behalf of Canyons School District, we love you and we thank you.”

As each student crossed, they told Johnson, “Thanks for being so nice” and “Thanks for keeping us safe,” as they handed her flowers and gave her hugs that morning. Many students signed a banner recognizing Johnson’s contributions.

 “It’s just something I can do to help our community,” Johnson said. “I’ve had parents come to me and say, ‘You used to cross me when I attended East Midvale.’ And I remember them, maybe not always their names, but I can tell you who they are.”

Irene Larsen, who had 10 children cross under Johnson’s watch, said she does know every child’s name.

“They just love her,” she said.

Johnson’s niece, Heather Erickson, said Johnson started the crossing job when her children were in school at East Midvale, 15 principals ago, when Jimmy Carter was president of the United States.

“She’s truly amazing and has rarely gotten a substitute,” she said. “She does whatever she needs to as she knows it’s her duty. She and Uncle Ron know everyone and have done their crossing guard jobs for decades.”

Ron Johnson retired after 30 years of crossing at Midvalley Elementary.

“This is an absolute joy for her to be able to walk up the street and wish those children a good day,” he said. “When she broke her hip last year, it was one of the few times she wasn’t out there every day, but she was determined to get right back out there, being responsible for the kids she knows and loves.”

Terry and Tamara Jensen, who have lived in the school district for 61 years, have had nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, grandkids and their own children cross the street with Johnson’s help.

Their son, Trenton Jensen, said, “She was just like a mom, knowing she could help take care of us after school. I’d play with her boys, and her husband was my basketball coach.”

Tamara said she appreciated her neighbor and friend’s diligence.

“If we had a problem, she was more than just a crossing guard,” Tamara Jensen said. “She’d take our kids to her house and tell them to get out their homework. She’s always looking out for the best interest of the kids.”

That included one day when a student knocked on her door, wanting to cross the street, but it wasn’t a school day.

“Mom just set down what she was working on, picked up her stop sign and went out to make sure that student got safely to the playground,” said her son, Jason Johnson. “She knows her neighbors count on her and knows her duty. However, it was a double-edged sword. My parents always knew where I was and everyone knew my mom, so I knew if I ever got in trouble they’d know where to find her.”

Jason said that he flew in from Seattle to attend the ceremony.

 “This is such a great honor that the school district and department of transportation is recognizing her,” he said.

Principal Justin Pitcher said she is a beloved part of the school community.

“We consider her part of us, as she is involved with our students every day, engaged in our community,” he said. “She is the sweetest lady, and people like her [are] what makes East Midvale special.”  λ