School crossing guard enjoys keeping children safe

Published 12:39 am Monday, September 24, 2007

NATCHEZ — For one Natchez man, making sure children make it safely across the road is the most rewarding work of his life.

From 7 to 8 a.m. every school morning and from 2:15 p.m. until all of the buses have made safely out of the parking lot at Frazier Primary School, George A. Dunkley stands on or near George F. West Boulevard directing traffic.

“I’m not kidding when I say this is the most gratifying work I’ve ever done,” he said.

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Wearing an orange traffic vest and a straw hat, Dunkley shattered the afternoon air with a blow on his police whistle and waved his arms to indicate which vehicles should proceed and which ones should wait while a school bus turned out of the school’s parking lot.

“As long as these kids are safe and no buses are hit, I’m happy,” he said.

A retired prison guard — Dunkley worked in the notorious Levenworth prison in Kansas — police officer and security coordinator, Dunkley has served as a school crossing guard for the last two years.

“It gives me a chance to get out of the house and meet people,” he said. “But more importantly, it gets someone out here to slow some of these cars down.”

Dunkley said despite school zones and even the presence of crossing guards, many people want to drive past the school as fast as they can.

“They’ll see me coming out here, and they’ll speed up to try to beat the school bus stop signs or anything else that would slow them down — in other words, me,” he said.

Another problem he often has to deal with are distracted drivers, Dunkley said.

“I find it interesting, but in the morning, everyone who drives by has a phone to their ear,” he said. “When they’ve got nothing on their minds but getting their kids to school, they won’t see anything — they will not see a bus,” he said.

Dunkley said he’s happy with the job he has done so far.

“There’s been no wreck,” he said. “I’m happy as long as I maintain safety.”