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Many have crossed her path

Longtime guard calling it a career after nearly 30 years

Longtime guard calling it a career after nearly 30 years

May 22, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - Only a couple of weeks after Joann Kline showed a co-worker how to log working hours, the woman quit her job.

As a crossing guard for 28 years, Kline has shepherded generations of children from one corner to the next in their journeys to and from school.

That includes all of the children raised by that former co-worker, Kline said.

"I put her whole family on the school bus," said Kline, who at 75 years old plans to hang up her neon green slicker and white gloves for good.

Kline greeted children as they approached her post on East Memorial Boulevard and South Potomac Street near Bester Elementary School on two mornings this week.

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"Now, here comes a little boy," said Kline, as a youngster walked by himself toward her Thursday with his head down. "His grandma comes with him. She's mad at him, so he's walking by himself."

Kline said the best part of her job has been seeing the children, and she especially enjoys the antics of two brothers.

"I can always tell when they're coming, because if a truck comes down the street, they raise their hands up and make the guy blow his horn," Kline said.

She said she least likes working in bad weather, and she has seen the traffic get worse.

"It looks like an easy job, but it's really not. You've got to have a clear head and watch all the traffic. I really think it's a nice job if you like all kinds of weather and the kids. It's great," said Kline, who yelled at one boy as he crossed the street still pedaling his bicycle.

As part of an annual evaluation, Chris Babbie, a transportation specialist for Washington County Public Schools, watched Thursday as another crossing guard, Paul Burkett, guided children across South Potomac Street to Bester.

Both men said liking children is an important part of the job.

Kline has been outstanding, Babbie said.

"She'll be missed. The kids will really miss her," he said.

Saprina Marsh carried her second-grader's pink book bag over one shoulder as she pushed a stroller toward Kline. Marsh and her older daughter, 8-year-old Lexi Davis, said they both like Kline.

"Because she helps you get across the (street) safe," Lexi said.

The school system employs 31 crossing guards, Babbie said.

In a press release issued by Washington County Public Schools, Kline is credited with 25 years of service to the system.

Kline, who celebrated the birth of a great-granddaughter earlier this month, said she is looking forward to tending the flowers in the yard of her Hagerstown home and doing cross-stitch in her retirement.

In addition to the hour she spends at the corner of South Potomac Street and East Memorial Boulevard, Kline said she also spends about an hour at each of three other postings. She said she works two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon.

Kline could not deny she will miss seeing the children.

"Well, sure, you're going to miss it. You miss the people who come talk to you every day," she said.

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