Mr. Alfonso

Anyone that has walked or driven past the corner of South Avenue and Rockingham Street at the start or close of the school day at James P.B. Duffy School #12 has encountered Alfonso Hilliard.  Mr. Alfonso, as he is known by the kids, has been the crossing guard here for the last six school years. As a parent of three children that have crossed that corner thousands of times, we are fortunate to have him there.

Mr. Alfonso’s job description is quite simple – safely cross children on their way to and from school. In nearly 10 years of walking back and forth, we’ve had great crossing guards that bring their own unique personalities to the job but Mr. Alfonso takes it to a higher level. Everyone that passes on foot is greeted with a welcoming smile, an inquiry as to how their day is going and of course the big high five and “You have a great day” for all of the kids. This is the way every day should get started. If you drive by, you’ll get that characteristic smile and a big wave. Six hours later, headed the other direction, it’s much the same and conversation closes with “I’ll see you in the morning.”

South Ave. and Rockingham has to be one of the trickiest corners to cross given its abundance of foot traffic, car traffic, and the double dismissal with buses lined up nearly to the corner stretching beyond the bus loop.  Those driving on South Avenue, for whatever reason, seem always to be in a hurry, occasionally making a right on red or failing to yield to pedestrians.  They are likely the few that don’t appreciate Mr. Alfonso the way we do.  That’s why he’s there.

On a typical day, Mr. Alfonso will cross 70-80 kids in the morning and at least that many Highland Hospital employees. In the afternoon he crosses just as many kids. Between these two shifts he takes a post crossing students at School #46 and just this year has added School #12 Recess Coordinator to his resume. Here he gets a chance to know all of the kids at school, not just the “walkers”.  The pace of the Recess Coordinating job is fast with less time to engage students one on one. Regardless, it’s clear he connects with the students. While talking outside the cafeteria for this article we’re interrupted by waves, smiles, and a quick hello by kids of all ages as they walk by.

Alfonso loves his job. The people he meets inspire him. Seeing their faces every day motivates him. He tries to touch at least one person each day in a positive way.  He has come to realize it’s reciprocal.  When Mr. Alfonso is not working one of his many jobs, you’ll find him listening to some jazz and enjoying his children and grandchildren. He spends a lot of time working in his yard too. You can bet he’s someone that knows his neighbors and creates community around him, just as he has done right here in our neighborhood at our corner just up the street.