School crossing guard demands attention and smiles
Just under five feet tall, Olga Rodriguez is a giant on San Roque Road.
She displays homemade artwork, holiday decor and even dresses in costume to ensure she catches everyone’s attention.
Making passersby stop is her job as Peabody Charter School’s crossing guard, but she takes it to another level. Her goal is to make everyone smile.
“I want to demonstrate how much I love the kids,” Ms. Rodriguez told the News-Press.
She primarily speaks Spanish, so the English she has memorized shows what’s dear to her heart.
“I love to talk to everybody,” she said. “Children are my life.”
She brought her son and granddaughters to the News-Press interview, and neighbors gathered to share their appreciation for Ms. Rodriguez.
“It’s kind of like an institution to drive by and see her. This has been there for so many years,” Javier Read, father of a Peabody student, said.
As she has done for 20 years, Ms. Rodriguez starts her day early. She decks out the corner by the crosswalk with festive decor and large-scale art she paints on cardboard. At the end of the day, she packs everything up.
“She decorates every day; it doesn’t need to be a holiday,” said Brian Perkins, neighbor and Peabody parent. “She’s always got a funny mask or outfit on.”
For Easter, her favorite holiday, she dresses in a bunny costume.
Two Peabody students, Anya and Harper, said the costumes make them happy. Harper looks forward to animatronic Christmas figurines in December.
“(Students) love it. They love starting their day with great festivity and cheerfulness every day,” Claire Krock, assistant principal, said.
Susan Duffner, a mother of a second-grade student, said Ms. Rodriguez notices and compliments little things everyday.
The kids, bashful around a reporter, were comfortable talking with Ms. Rodriguez, who they affectionately call “Olgita.”
“We’re really glad that she’s part of our Peabody community. She makes it richer with her smile and her genuine love for the children,” Ms. Krock said.
Ms. Rodriguez helps the children cross the road by yelling “pase, pase,” which means pass in Spanish.
“She just brings so much spirit and joy to her job,” Ms. Krock told the News-Press. “Parents notice every day. Everyone is looking forward to seeing her every day.”
Ms. Rodriguez changes her decorations every week. Last week she brought bright green shamrock garland and twirling pinwheels.
“She goes all out for every holiday,” Ms. Krock said.
Ms. Rodriguez even honors Mother’s Day and Father’s Day with sweet paintings.
“It’s hard to put it into words how much work she puts into every day,” Mr. Perkins said.
The students are excited to see Ms. Rodriguez on their way to and from school.
Her job description emphasizes safety, enforcing rules and could easily be overlooked by rambunctious kids.
But this giant among crossing guards makes sure her red stop sign is noticed by all.