Public Information Officer
SHERIFF’S OFFICE’S SCHOOL CROSSING GUARD PROGRAM NAMED BEST IN STATE
Their jobs don’t end when elementary school children get safely to campus and back home again each school day. Employed by the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, Volusia’s 155 school crossing guards and seven supervisors also minister to the needy and function as a beacon of goodwill, kindness and community service.
And their hard work, dedication and professionalism hasn’t gone unnoticed. On Thursday, officials announced that Governor Jeb Bush has named Volusia’s school crossing guard program the best in Florida. The announcement came during a recognition ceremony Thursday morning in front of the Volusia County Council in DeLand. “You’re protecting the future of this country and this community,” County Council member Dwight Lewis told Sheriff’s officials and school crossing guard supervisors who assembled for Thursday’s ceremony. “We appreciate what you do.” Added County Council Chair Frank Bruno: “You do a great job.”
By proclamation of the Governor, Friday will be recognized as School Crossing Guard Appreciation Day across Florida. The County Council had planned to express its appreciation as well on Thursday. The announcement of the statewide award for Volusia’s program made Thursday’s ceremony all the more special. The Governor's proclamation was hand-delivered by Leigh Matusick, Administrator to the Florida School Crossing Guard Program. “We thank you for this measure of recognition for our school crossing guards, who are out there protecting our most precious resource – our children,” Bill Lee, the Sheriff’s Office’s Chief Deputy, told the Council. “We couldn’t accomplish this without these dedicated individuals.”
Volusia’s school crossing guard program has long been regarded as a leader in training and safety measures. In 1992, Florida mandated standardized training for all crossing guards in the state. By that time, Volusia County already had taken a leadership role in implementing a comprehensive, standardized training program for local school crossing guards. The state used parts of Volusia’s guidelines as a model for the rest of Florida. In addition, all seven of Volusia’s crossing guard supervisors are certified trainers. Supervisors also work with traffic engineers and law enforcement and school officials to help evaluate requests for new crossing locations. In addition, crossing guards educate children about pedestrian and bicycle safety, help organize “Walk to School Day” activities, hand out free drink coupons when they spot a child doing a good deed, make referrals for needy youngsters and collect school supplies for distribution to disadvantaged children. And each school day, they are there to greet school children with a warm smile and shepherd them safely along their path to and from school, often in inclement weather conditions.
“The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office has demonstrated a strong commitment to child safety issues and awareness,” states a certificate signed by Gov. Bush. “This agency has provided exemplary leadership and training for its school crossing guards, so as to secure the safety of both crossing guards and schoolchildren. Its dedication to the performance of these duties and to the children it serves is commendable.”
The Volusia County School Board is scheduled to honor school crossing guards at the Board’s meeting on Tuesday.