Photo: Jackie Daye, Wellington’s well-loved crossing guard.
It may have been a rainy opening of the Belmont school year on Wednesday, Sept. 7, but for Jacqueline Daye, it was nothing but sunny greetings to everyone crossing the roads heading to the Roger Wellington Elementary School on Orchard Street.
A crossing guard employed by the town, the new school year is a return to the corner of Common and Orchard where Daye hold forth.
“Hi Jackie!” said a child, as Daye moves into traffic, halting cars and trucks with her handheld “stop” sign at the ready.
“Good morning! Welcome back, guys!”
“Hello Jackie. How was your summer,” asked a parent.
“It was great. I’m glad to be back.”
Small in stature, Daye’s easy smile and warm disposition can brighten a particularly gloom day before the students enter the classroom. From September to June, in rain, the heat and snow and on those perfect mornings and afternoons that interchange throughout the year, Daye is a constant in the Wellington community.
“I never miss a day of work,” she said. “My doctor said not to.”
For Daye, the best part of the job is “meeting the kids and the families who are excellent.”
“I meet a lot of people because of this job,” she said.
“I’m well loved around here,” Daye commented, with a big laugh.
And, joking aside, she is.
“Jackie is just about the most amazing crossing guard ever. She’s the best,” said Stacey Conroy, treking though the rain with her children.
“She remembers everybody, she welcomes us everyday. We’d be lost without her,” said the Bay State Road resident.
Daye is one of 16 crossing guards hired and supervised by the Belmont Police who work approximately 15 hours a week allowing students, parents and residents to make their way safely across some of the busiest streets in town.
And when Daye moves out into the roadway, it’s all business. Hands outstretched, she looks at the traffic and stops it with a flash of her stop sign. On this first day, a vehicle heading down Common to Belmont Center had inched over into the crosswalk, eager – maybe too eager – to continue his commute, using his horn in an attempt to persuade Daye to let him through.
Daye would have none of that conduct, keeping her arm outstretched with her “stop” sign in the driver’s direction accompanied with a stern look. He didn’t honk a second time.
“Ugh! Can you believe that?” a parent told Daye, who just shook her head.
“Let’s all be safe,” said Daye, then her smile returned as she waves back at a student who called out, “Hi Jackie!”