When Philip Hinton turned around in his seat to wave to the students at École Harris Mill he was greeted with big smiles, waves and even the occasional yell of “Hi Phil” from a student who was waving both arms to make sure they weren’t missed.
Hinton is the Highway 7 crossing guard for École Harris Mill in Rockwood and on June 24 the school honoured him for the work he does.
“He is a wonderful crossing guard,” school principal Carrie Conrad told students, staff and parents at the end-of-year ceremony. “In fact he’s so wonderful that he was nominated for an Everyday Hero award and it will come as no surprise to anyone in this room, he was a winner of this award.”
On May 27, Hinton was honoured as an Everyday Hero by the Upper Grand District School Board at a reception at the E. L. Fox Auditorium at John F. Ross CVI along with his nine fellow “heros.” But on June 24, the celebration was all about Hinton.
Conrad explained that he goes above and beyond the duties of a crossing guard.
“The diligence with which Philip does his job significantly alleviates parent’s anxieties and gives many parents peace of mind knowing that their children are safe crossing a very busy highway,” she said. “We all know that Philip works in all kinds of weather conditions. He is out there in snow, he is out there in fog, he is out there in rain, and he is out there in the heat. And he’s out there always with a smile.”
She continued to say that one of the biggest fears in opening the new school for herself and for parents was how the children were going to cross the highway safely.
“While we certainly recognize and I know you are working very diligently behind the scenes as well to have improvements made to that intersection that will help us even more, you being there has made a tremendous difference to us all,” she said. “You’ve given us peace of mind and for that we are eternally grateful.”
Conrad said the other characteristic that makes Hinton so unique is his effort to get to know the students.
“Philip has gotten to know the names of the students here at our school, he knows many of your interests and I hear he even knows when many of you celebrate your birthdays,” she said. “That’s pretty special and not the kind of thing the average crossing guard does.”
When Hinton was presented with a gift of appreciation from the school the applause was deafening from the students, parents and teachers.
In his speech he said getting to know the students’ names wasn’t easy.
“One of the hardest things for me in all my life was trying to remember names and here I was, first day ‘my name, my name, my name, my name’ and you’re all dressed up from the fall to the winter to the spring, some days you all looked alike,” he told the students with a laugh. “There’s some names I still don’t quite know because you still look alike.
“Thank you very much for being my friend, for waving at me, for smiling because you really do make my day,” he said. “I couldn’t be any happier than seeing every one, especially ones on the buses as well because I don’t get a chance to talk to you.”
Hinton is not only a crossing guard for École Harris Mill, he also interacts with students from Rockwood Centennial Public School.