by Lindsay Star Platt, Correspondent
Every morning and afternoon Leonard Harris can be spotted waving at nearly every car on Main Street as he stands at his patrol. For nine years Harris has been a school crossing guard for Leon Heights Elementary helping children cross the street safely and warming the hearts of passer-bys.
“I started this job after I became disabled and had to leave my job working at a jail,” said Harris. “My wife worked at Belton High School and she told me about the crossing guard position that was open. I thought I would apply. And at first I thought I would just try it, and just a couple of weeks into it, I really liked it.”
Harris’ youngest daughter had just started kindergarten at Leon Heights when he got job as crossing guard. All of Harris’ children, except his oldest son were students at Leon Heights. His daughter is now a sophomore at Belton High School. And the Harris family has lived in the Leon Heights neighborhood for 15 years.
“One day I just started waving at the cars, and they waved back. I couldn’t stop from that day, been doing it ever since. It just makes my day when they wave back. The people in the cars love to see me wave, and I love to see them wave back,” commented Harris. “I’m going to be here doing this as long as I can. I love the Leon Heights neighborhood, it is my home.”
Harris has seen children grow up before his eyes. Harris said he spots the children around town, even when they are seniors in high school.
“I say wow, they are all grown up now,” remarked Harris.
The job as crossing guard has Harris out in all types of weather. Harris said he is a little more partial to the cold weather than the hot.
“The heat is just a mess. It gets very hot and all I can do to cool down is drink a lot of water,” commented Harris. “In the rain, I am not as busy, not as many kids walk in the rain, just a few.
As, long as school is in session Harris is there to make sure they cross the street as he stops traffic. Harris also said the job helps keep him fit. He has an app on his smartphone that lets him know how much activity he did that day. He said most days he is right on target and sometime a little under.
“When I first started this job, you would see a lot of kids walking to and from school. But, now you just don’t see kids walk like you used to. You see more kids walking home in the afternoons, but as many walk in the mornings. Kids just don’t walk as much as they used too, I’m not sure why,” said Harris.
Rossann Johns, receptionist, Leon Heights Elementary, said, “Mr. Harris is so dependable. Our community loves him and his love for the kids. The kids just adore him getting them across the street. He is so friendly with everybody and always has a smile on his face. On the few times he is not at work, we will actually get calls from people. They will ask if he is okay, and will he be back.”
Editor’s note: This story was originally credited to Elizabeth Varville when the the writer was Lindsay Starr Platt.