On guard for thee: Profile of a crossing guard

Crossing guard Marg Nichols with both her stop sign and bubble wand in hand while helping students at École Catholique Cathédrale get to and from school. Photo by Bill Gowsell.


School is winding down, and kids will be off for the summer, free from homework and tests for two months. For a successful school year, it takes a village of people to make it work. Every day, I drop my kids off at École Catholique Cathédrale before heading off to work. These morning drives have been hectic some days, as I rush to get the kids ready and to school on time – sometimes I fail and we are a few minutes late, but most times I am successful.

Occasionally, I would forget something and run back into the house, and sometimes I would need to get out of the car to help one of the kids with their seatbelt. Morning drop-offs were an adjustment for me, but it worked better for our family, as I would handle the morning duties, my wife would handle the afternoon pickups, and we would all meet back home for supper.

On the first morning of school, while I worried about traffic and dodging college students jaywalking across Johnson Street, I talked to my kids about how great school is, and why they should be excited about being in school all day and not miss their free days from the summer. When we climbed out of the car with our bags in hand and made our way to the crosswalk at the corner of Johnson and Barrie Streets, I couldn’t believe the traffic. Cars zoomed by at what seemed to be NASCAR speeds, and I immediately thought about how I would keep the kids safe.

The light changed and out to the center of the crosswalk walked our crossing guard, Marg Nichols. She greeted us with a smile, stood firmly with her stop sign up, and walked us to the other side of the intersection. Marg asked us how our summer was and told us to have a great day. I dropped the kids off at the yard and hightailed it out to my job.

From the first day till the last, Marg has been greeting every kid that crosses the street from Barrie or Johnson with a smile. She learns the students’ and the parents’ names, has something fun to greet the kids with like “welcome to Terrific Tuesday” or “it’s Wonderful Wednesday,” and occasionally has her dog, Amos, sitting in her car beside her for the kids to pet before starting school. Marg doesn’t just do these little things for some of the kids. Every child that walks into her care is greeted with a smile and is cared for.

Each morning, we look forward to seeing our friend Marg help us cross the street. For the last six years, she has been a crossing guard helping school kids make it safely to their destination. Marg loves her job because she loves kids. During the winter months it helps break up the dreariness and brings a smile to her face. Every child who comes across Marg’s path is greeted by name with a smile, occasionally blows some bubbles which Marg has brought out with the nicer weather, and every kid is encouraged to stop and pet Amos. How could anyone start their day the wrong way when they are greeted by this warmth at the crosswalk?

For my kids, their journey to school starts long before they walk into the yard and play with their friends. School begins in the morning when my wife and I are packing bags and getting lunches out of the fridge. Splitting time between who showers when, and who is going to make the kids breakfast, and whether we empty the dishwasher in the morning or start it because we forgot to the night before. Marg Nichols is another ingredient to our successful school journey. Her smile and personality, her conversation with the kids and parents is just what anyone needs in the morning.

Her job is not easy, and there have been multiple times when I have watched drivers on Johnson Street speed down the road, putting Marg at risk. No matter what, Marg is there ready to start our day the positive way. As the school year ends, I want to say thank you to Marg for her dedication to her job, and for always starting our day a positive way.

The school year is made up of so many moving parts that each contributes in their own way. From Marg walking the kids to safety, to the secretary who signs us in when we are late; from the teachers who lead our kids in learning, and the lunchtime supervisors who keep them safe at lunch, to the principals who oversee it all; from the bus drivers that take their students safely to school in the morning and home each night no matter the weather, and the EAs who work with kids one on one, to the ECE’s and teachers who guide the learning, the caretakers who keep our schools clean, and the crossing guards who help us navigate the intersections: Thank you all.

The school year is close to over, so take a moment to slow down, recognize everyone who helps make your day a success, and thank them. Thank you Marg, and I look forward to seeing you again in September


Bill Gowsell was born and raised in Kingston. With an interest in history, food, wine, and all things Disney, Bill has been writing for the last eight years on a variety of topics. During the summers he can be found at the family cottage north of Kingston, or at the bottom of Lake Ontario… scuba diving.

Bill Gowsell

Bill has been an elementary school teacher for the last 12 years. His passion for writing includes a wide variety of interests, from history, food, pop culture, and anything to do with Disney. Recently he published his second book, Extra Magic Days: Thirty Years of Walt Disney World Vacations. Learn more about Bill...

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