By Liz Tenney Jarvis.
There was not a lot of traffic, at least of the two-legged kind, when Crossing Guard Dave Becker grew up in rural Northern Virginia. Born in Lewistown, Pennsylvania, Dave and his family came to live in Lovettsville where his father owned a farm. A graduate of Loudoun Valley High School (’77), Dave went to community college to enroll in the fire science program. In 1984, Dave joined the Fairfax County firefighters and worked there until 1989. He was one of the original 12 career firemen when Loudoun County opened up positions for career firefighters. His total fire service career spanned some 30 years with 28 being in Loudoun.
Five years ago, in 2011, Dave retired. Not one year later he was back with the County as a crossing guard. Asked if he had any special training for the crossing guard position, Dave explained that formal training starts before the school year begins. New employees are taken out into the field to learn what is expected and to check performance. It was apparent that Dave, with his many years directing traffic at accident scenes and on emergency calls as a firefighter, was well qualified. There was more to the job and that was the ability to effectively communicate with the public – many times for their own safety.
Emerick Elementary was Dave’s very first crossing guard post with the Blue Ridge Middle School post being picked up this school year. Former Emerick parent, Chris St. John, recalls when Dave came on the job, replacing the prior crossing guard. “I remember when Shirley left – we had gotten to talking regularly – so when Dave arrived I wasn’t happy. But you can’t not like the man! He’s ALWAYS smiling and genuinely happy to see everyone every morning. If only half the world were that kind, this world would be a better place!”
Other than the four-way stop at Emerick (Blue Ridge is a two-direction crosswalk), Dave says big differences between the two schools include the ages of the students and their ability to listen (no Smartphone Zombies on Dave’s watch) and the fact that the elementary school kids have their parents with them as well. Dave indicates that generally all of the kids are pretty good. He does take safety and protocol very seriously and will admonish adults who attempt to walk before he has blown his okay-to-proceed whistle. He takes a gentler approach to kids.
Dave is a now a fixture on his morning and afternoon posts. He has become part of the fabric of small-town life. Those who encounter him frequently, state how he really “makes their day.” The Wood family, with children in both schools, commented saying, “On a daily basis, Dave’s smile is something you can count on. I might pass him while dropping a kid off at school or on my way to work. No matter what the mood might be when leaving for the day, you can’t pass by him without feeling a little bit lighter and carrying a bigger smile yourself…which you simply want to pass on to others. His kindness is contagious.”
Dave is a representative to many – a local parent, Dave Dehler, recently remarked that he didn’t even know the crossing guard’s name was Dave, which he felt was ironic. Dehler says, “I look forward to the wave or salute each day, once on the way and again on the way back through his BRMS crossing. Dave may not know it but he represents not only what is terrific about this town, but he is a symbol for what is good in this world. His presence is a brilliant reminder, especially when the disrespect is running rampant on the news and within political circles, that there are good peaceful people out there, and we should celebrate them.”
Of course, the schools rely on Dave as their sentry – watching over everyone as they enter and exit the school. Blue Ridge Middle School Principal, Brion Bell, elaborates by describing Dave’s daily routine, â€œ’Good morning, Blue Ridge, Crossing Guard Dave is on duty’, is the daily morning message crackling through our radios about 8am. We know each morning Crossing Guard Dave is ready to meet each student with a smile, starting his/her day safely and with a positive interaction. Although this time is brief, CG Dave's positive attitude and smile lasts with kids throughout the day. Many, when asked how walking to school is going, comment on CG Dave's kind-hearted approach and message. They are a grateful to him, and in turn, we are grateful to CG Dave for the value he places in his work.”
Dave will be there during the school year, in the heat, cold, pouring rain, and all the other unpleasant elements and he will have a smile on his face while waving at all who pass by. Blue Ridge Middle School teacher and parent, Jennifer Nicholson, says, “Crossing Guard Dave always brightens our day with his kindness when he smiles and waves to us in the morning! He is truly a wonderful, kind, person and we are so fortunate to have him in our community. It doesn’t matter if it is freezing outside, rainy, or windy, he always has a bright smile on his face. His kindness is contagious and always puts a smile on our face and makes our mornings a little brighter.”
Emerick Elementary School Principal Dawn Haddock sums it up by saying that there is, a better way to start your day than with a smile and wave from Crossing Guard Dave.