CHICAGO - The Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC), Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the Archdiocese of Chicago today announced the city’s first Crossing Guard of the Year Award in recognition of the important role crossing guards play in helping Chicago children and families travel to and from school safely. During a ceremony at the Alexander Graham School in Canaryville, OEMC, CPS and the Archdiocese of Chicago recognized Maredith Robertson with the first-ever Crossing Guard of the Year Award for her work in the 2017-2018 school year. Robertson’s post is located at 45th Street and Wallace, where she safely guides students from Graham Elementary and St. Gabriel Elementary during their daily commutes.
“I’d like to thank Maredith Roberston and the hundreds of crossing guards who make sure our students can safely travel to and from school every day,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “It takes a village to ensure that children can remain focused on receiving the quality education they deserve and crossing guards are an important part. By keeping their eyes and ears focused on safety, our child can focus on their future.”
Earlier this year, Mayor Emanuel proclaimed February 14 to March 14 Crossing Guard Appreciation Month in Chicago. As part of these recognition efforts, the City launched the nomination process for Crossing Guard of the Year and invited students, families and school officials to honor the significant role their crossing guards play in keeping school communities safe.
“We are pleased to partner with our school communities to acknowledge the often-overlooked public safety personnel who – rain, sunshine, severe cold or snow – cheerfully ensure families and students throughout the city can travel to and from school safely every day,” said OEMC Executive Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. “We also hope the recognition of Maredith and her colleagues will serve to remind motorists to engage in safe driving behavior near schools, and to heed the direction of crossing guards as they cross children and community members during bell times.”
“Academic success starts with a safe commute to and from school every day and crossing guards serve as trusted pillars of their communities as they work to keep students safe,” said CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson. "Dedicated crossing guards like Maredith perform their jobs in the rain, sun, and snow and that dedication provides peace of mind to parents and the school community as they keep a watchful eye on students day after day.”
Nationally, approximately 12 percent of students walk or bike to school. Crossing guards help students develop safe pedestrian and bicycling habits, such as looking both ways before crossing roads, navigating intersections and using crosswalks.
“We are grateful to our crossing guards like Maredith for ensuring the safety of our student pedestrians,” said Chicago Archdiocese rep. “They are a vital part of helping all of us provide our children with the opportunity to lead healthy, happy lives.”
In March, the Mayor’s Office, together with OEMC, Chicago Department of Transportation, CPS and the Chicago Archdiocese also launched the “Stay Alert, Don’t Get Hurt” public awareness campaign aimed at keeping students and crossing guards safe under the City’s larger Vision Zero Plan for pedestrian safety.
Public safety reminders for motorists in school zones included:
- Check crosswalks when turning.
- Don’t just look for oncoming traffic– check for people walking
- Stop for people in crosswalks.
- State law: Drivers MUST STOP for people walking at crosswalks not just intersections with traffic lights or stop signs.
- Slow down.
- School zones have lower speed limits – Keep to 20MPH in around schools.
- Allow enough time for pick-up and drop-off. When you’re running late, you’re running a risk. Rushing is dangerous.
- Just drive.
- Texting and talking on a cell phone while driving slows reaction time.
- Never Maneuver around stopped traffic in a school zone.
- Double parking around school zones decreases safety for everyone. Check with your school about pick-up and drop-off policies
- Be aware of crossing guards and obey their directions.
- Crossing guards wear brightly colored and highly reflective clothing while on duty so that they are visible in traffic and during inclement weather.
- Crossing guards use hand-held stop signs while walking out in the street to alert drivers that children and pedestrians of all ages are crossing.
- Drive according to conditions.
- Overall visibility is limited in bad weather conditions. Not only is it more difficult for drivers to see oncoming pedestrians, it also is harder for pedestrians to see you.
- Make sure your lights are on and you use your signals properly. Use extra caution in these circumstances.
- Approximately 450 pedestrians ages eight to 14 are injured in incidents involving a vehicle every year in Illinois. Under the Vision Zero, Chicago is working to eliminate injuries and traffic fatalities by 2026.