WORK EXPERIENCE: Rewards are so sweet on lollipop patrol
IT’S NOT every day you get to wield a giant lollipop, but that’s exactly what I did when I became a lollipop lady for the day at Cwm Primary School.
When I arrived at Cwm Primary School in the pouring rain on a Tuesday afternoon I admit that my feelings about being a lollipop lady weren’t the best.
But I can honestly say that I have never felt more powerful than when I donned the reflective coat and held the iconic lollipop in preparation to guide schoolchildren across the road.
Meeting Cwm Primary School’s popular lollipop lady, Sarah Kinsey, I was thrown in to work, setting out eight bright green cones at certain points along the two roads we were to help children cross.
The cones were used to stop cars parking in spaces along the road, which would make it difficult for the children to cross.
Pulling along the ‘cone trolley’ which is stored at a neighbouring house in the pouring rain, I was impressed by the lollipop lady’s resilience to the dreadful weather.
“I will have been a lollipop lady for six years in April,” said the 37-year-old mother of two, who lives in the village.
“After my mother had a stroke I wanted a job that would enable me to look after my sons in the school holidays.
“It is a great part-time job as it is within walking distance and I don’t need any travel expenses and it is really rewarding.”
As I chat to Mrs Kinsey I learn that a typical day begins with arriving at the school’s crossing-point at 8am and helping the children to cross the roads into school for 9am.
I then have to return to the school at 2.30pm to help the children cross the road on their way home when school finishes at 3pm.
“I work a split shift – an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon, and it enables me to be flexible with my other job, working at the convenience store, Premier,” Mrs Kinsey added.
As I work I learn that doing a split shift is just one of the perks of the job, as crossing guards receive many tokens of appreciation from children and parents.
“I was given a key-ring saying that I was the ‘Bestest traffic attendant’,” she laughed.
“At Christmas times and at the end of the school year I also get gifts such as flowers for helping the children.”
But it’s not just children I help to cross, as part of the crossing guard handbook I am to help adults to cross the road.
“And it’s just as well!” Mrs Kinsey said.
“Some adults just stand there waiting for you to help them cross.
“Some of them have no traffic sense whatsoever.
“I just really enjoy the work.
“I just enjoy chatting to the children and seeing their little faces light up when they recognise me in the shop as being their lollipop lady.
“It is a really rewarding job.”
As the children begin to come out of school Mrs Kinsey tells me the most important rule of the job – to always put yourself and the children’s safety first.
“Oh, and you should always wear walking shoes,” Mrs Kinsey said.
Despite being a small road it becomes really busy when the pupils leave the school, with parents and cars coming and going.
Part of the job is being friendly, and knowing who the children are.
Mrs Kinsey greets nearly all of the children by name as she helps them cross the street and sees her role as being part of the community.
“When you have been doing it for as long as I have you tend to know a lot of people,” she said as she introduced me to one Cwm school pupil, nine-year-old Tia Bowen, who she has helped cross the road since she was four.
When the first lot of children approach the road I leap into action, guiding them across the road with words of encouragement, while standing in the middle holding up my lollipop to the stationary cars.
Forever running back and forth in the rain, I begin to see why you need sensible shoes as my high-heeled boots just don’t cut it, but the children’s appreciation keeps me going.
Taking a break, Mrs Kinsey teaches me what the black horizontal line on the sign is for.
The black line is so that you can write down the licence-plate number of an offending vehicle.
“But we can’t do that any more with these plastic signs, as back in the day chalk was used, so we always have to carry pen and paper, just in case.”
Packing up the cones at the end of the shift I had a renewed sense of respect for crossing guards, as like postmen, they have to do their work no matter what the weather.
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