HOMETOWN HEROES: Peterborough Elementary crossing guard Jessica Hamlin brings fun to the role

Peterborough Elementary School crossing guard Jessica Hamlin holds up traffic as students cross the street Thursday.

Peterborough Elementary School crossing guard Jessica Hamlin holds up traffic as students cross the street Thursday. STAFF PHOTO BY BILL FONDA

By BILL FONDA

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 01-22-2024 10:44 AM

Modified: 01-30-2024 10:44 AM


Stop sign in hand, Jessica Hamlin brings traffic to a stop Thursday near where Elm, Union, Main, High and Vine streets come together, down the hill from Peterborough Elementary School.

As the youngsters cross the street at the end of the school day, Hamlin greets them with smiles and a few high-fives. She had done the same at the beginning of the day, around 8:15 a.m., as students went to school.

“It’s my favorite part of the day, morning or afternoon,” she said. “When I see my little friends with their big smiles, it makes me happy.”

Hamlin, 40, is the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript’s Hometown Hero for January. The joy she takes in her job – which she said she has been doing for eight or nine years – was the impetus for her mother Deb Budney to nominate her.

“She knows each child by name. She's always smiling, kind and she wears a costume for every occasion,” Budney wrote. “The kids love her and so do the parents. She loves helping plan family activities at the golf course! They put on the best spooky walk around. She brought this idea from when she was president of the PTO. She always wants to make sure there are things for both children and adults to do. She's a kind loving person who gives all of herself to others.”

Standing on the sidewalk near the intersection once the children had gone, Hamlin said she began working as a crossing guard after learning that the Police Department needed one. Her children were PES students at the time, and she said she knew how much fun the job was because she had a friend who was a crossing guard.

“It made it very easy for me, and now I have as much fun with it as I possibly can,” she said. “I’ve watched the kids grow up. They still remember me as the crazy crossing guard.”

According to Hamlin, training consists of learning how to stop traffic, keep children safe and be noticeable.

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“And you need to be loud,” she said.

In particular, Hamlin’s sense of fun comes out for holidays and special occasions, when she conducts crossing duties in costume. She has dressed as a Thanksgiving turkey, a leprechaun for St. Patrick’s Day, a circus ringmaster for Halloween and a giant heart that said “Be Mine” for Valentine’s Day.

“Sometimes I play crazy music and we dance across the sidewalk,” she said. “They’re waiting for Valentine’s Day because they know something’s going to happen.”

Hamlin said her children wouldn’t let her dress in costume when they were at PES, but “they like it now, because they’re not here.”

Thursday’s weather was cold, but Hamlin is out there no matter the weather.

“You just get used to it. We make the best of it,” she said.

Hamlin said, “I’ll be doing this until I’m an old lady,” making sure to tell the students “Happy Monday” or whatever the day of the week is when they come by each morning.

“They need to know they’re important, because they’re important to me,” she said. “Even if I’m having a bad start, it puts me in a good mood to see them so happy.”

Each month, the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript will recognize one of our region’s many Hometown Heroes. Nominate a Hometown Hero at ledgertranscript.com/SpecialPages/Hometown-Heroes.