Rose Baker spends her days trying to make people smile. She said there are too many people who go to work or school looking tired, or unhappy.
The Concord crossing guard said she sees the two hours she stands outside Concord High and Rundlett Middle School each morning and afternoon as a chance to change the course of someone’s day – to show them they’re cared about.
“If I can make someone happy, or turn their day around, then it makes my whole day,” she said, waving a few students across Warren Street. “I get to go to bed with a smile on my face.”
That’s why Baker, 58, said she makes sure to greet everyone she sees – even on days like a recent Tuesday, when heavy snow was soaking through plaid fleece pajama pants and her brown boots.
Baker has been a dedicated crossing guard at Concord schools for 18 years, since her own son was in preschool. There have been times when she didn’t have a car and had to walk three miles to work – but she didn’t mind.
“It’s my duty to keep the kids and teachers safe – no matter the weather,” she said. “They need me here.”
Now, she’s in the running for the honor of America’s favorite crossing guard with the organization Safe Kids Worldwide. Voting closed this past Friday.
A long career
Baker has been a crossing guard at Christa McAuliffe School, Concord High and Rundlett throughout her almost two decades of work in the Concord schools. She started the job after years as a dietary aide at a nursing home, so she could spend more time at home with her son.
She said she’s loved getting to know the schools’ staff, and see kids grow up.
“They’re all like my kids now – I know them, and I look out for them,” she said.
She said she’s also learned to look out for certain things that could be of danger to students – particularly dangerous intersections, when the sidewalks aren’t plowed and kids have to walk in the street, or kids traveling on bikes in traffic.
Each morning she starts around 7 a.m. at the corner of Westbourne Road – where the buses drop off kids – and Warren Street. As 8 a.m. nears, she travels to Rundlett Middle School, and stays there until around 9 a.m.
Kids stopped to wave and call her out by name as they walked across the street at Concord High. She said it’s a great feeling when parents come up to her and thank her for the work she does.
“They say, thank you for doing such a good job and keeping our kids safe,’” she said. “That, to me, hits the heart.”
Sometimes, people aren’t so nice, Baker said. There have been times when she has stopped a car to let kids pass, and someone has yelled at her out the window.
“It kind of hurts me in a way, because it lowers my self-esteem,” Baker said. “I have my good days and my bad days, but I try to hang in there and put a smile on people’s face.”
But overall, people are kind, she said. Baker said she loves her job – she feels like it gives her an opportunity to be at her best, and give back to the community.
Baker has been nominated America’s favorite crossing guard at least once before, but she didn’t win. She said she feels so honored that people in the community have noticed her.
“That just makes me feel good to know that the parents think that,” Baker said. “It’s not like they’re just saying it to make you happy and stuff. They’re saying it because they really do appreciate it.”
(This story appeared in the Nov. 26 issue of the Monitor.)