The Oracle

Crossing Guards

The Oracle

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Michael Saterfield

by: Eileen Qian

Though many students pass by crossing guard Michael Saterfield on their way to school, few have taken the time to get to know more about him. Saterfield serves as the crossing guard at the Arastradero Road and Terman Drive intersection and has been on duty for almost four years now.
Saterfield previously worked for 20 years in the military, took on several odd jobs at miscellaneous companies including Caltrain and has also taught self-defense classes.

However, after realizing that he enjoyed working with children, Saterfield decided to apply for a crossing guard position. “I can’t be a teacher, but at least I can keep them safe going to and from school,” he said.

He finds his work to be rewarding and especially enjoys making light conversation with students. “My favorite part of the job is all the greetings in the morning and the afternoon,” Saterfield said. “I like the morning most of all; the kids always make you smile because they’re happy and ready to go to school.”
Though Saterfield grew up in Texas as a child, he moved to California and attended high school in Oakland and college at Berkeley.

As a last message to students, Saterfield urges students to always be very careful. “Everyone should be alert, especially with all the traffic around here,“ he said.

Jack Brown

by: Rani Shiao

Although public safety and law enforcement are automatically associated with police officers or fire fighters, there are a few key characters in the community that go unnoticed: the crossing guards. In Palo Alto, they are present at every major intersection, usually before and after school hours.

For instance, crossing guard Jack Brown works at the Maybell-Coulombe intersection, helping the students of Juana Briones Elementary School. Although he has been retired for six years, Brown continues to be an active citizen of the community by volunteering his time as a cross guard. Brown views his role as not only an opportunity to help the children around the area, but also a chance to get out of the house and exercise.

Throughout the week, Brown can be spotted at his morning shift from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and at his afternoon shift from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. His ultimate goal is to ensure that everyone in the community is safe, especially during the traffic rush in the morning and afternoon. “The kids are not the only one that I am looking after,” Brown said. “The people who are driving or walking by also deserve to be safe.”

While holding a stop sign and walking pedestrians across the street may seem like an easy job, in reality, it is difficult to enforce  regulations, especially when people are not cooperative.

According to Brown, many bikers deprive themselves of proper protection. “Gunn students don’t wear their helmets or listen to what I say,” Brown said.
In addition to the bikers, the pedestrians fail to acknowledge proper regulation as well. “They just walk whenever they want to,” Brown said. “I tell them to stop, but they cross anyway.”

He tries to enforce strict regulation of state laws, but it is a difficult task considering the large amount of people who ignore his instructions.
Despite these difficulties, Brown has high hopes for the future of the Juana Briones elementary students. “The kids are beautiful,” he said. “They are growing, changing and above all, following my instructions.”

Jean Prather

by: Jean Wang

For students walking, biking or driving through Arastradero Road in the morning, crossing guard Jennifer Prather is a familiar sight, always at her post and  ready to assist students, rain, wind or shine.

A former Gunn and Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School student, Prather has seen first-hand how much the commute to school has increased. “Growing up around here, we didn’t have to worry about so many cars,” Prather said. “Nowadays, it’s just dangerous out here.”

“Growing up around here, we didn’t have to worry about so many cars. Nowadays, it’s just dangerous out here.”

—crossing guard Jennifer Prather”

As a crossing guard, Prather has borne witness to a number of fender benders. For students who bike or walk, Prather advises them to look both ways before crossing to avoid any such accidents and to pay attention to their surroundings.

Unfortunately, while working last year, Prather was hit by a car, further illustrating the dangers that pedestrians face on the road. “I was out of work for a month, and right now, I’m still having pain with it,” Prather said. Despite such a traumatic experience, Prather remains dedicated to her work and motivated by her concern for the safety of students.

In addition to her job as a crossing guard, Prather enjoys watching hockey, and is an ardent fan of the San Jose Sharks. She is also considering training for a triathlon with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), in honor of her mother who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Davena P.

by: Lydia Zhang

Crossing guard Davena P., who did not want to share her last name with The Oracle, has worked at the intersection of El Camino and Maybell for the past year.

Davena braves the cold each morning in order to protect pedestrians and bikers, many of whom are middle school and high school students, travelling through the busy El Camino intersection. “I’m not just here to be paid,” Davena said. “I’m here to provide safety, so it’s important to stop when I say stop.”
Though she was only instated at the El Camino and Maybell intersection this year, Davena has worked as a crossing guard for three years and understands the importance of her job. She has never been afraid to inform the police if she knows a biker is continually ignoring red lights. “I’m respectful and kind-hearted, but when they don’t listen, it makes things difficult for me,” she said. “Obey the rules. That’s why a crossing guard is there. We’re here for your safety.”

Davena has a busy schedule outside of working as a crossing guard. She is currently taking classes as Cañada College and majoring in early child development.Davena hopes to soon get a job teaching kids, after she finishes her classes. She is also expecting her first child, and says she’s excited at the prospect.

“I’m going to have a lot of things to do,” she said. “My life won’t revolve around [being a crossing guard]  anymore.”

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Crossing Guards