For nearly three decades, the smiling face of a beloved crossing guard has greeted morning commuters on Sooke Road.
Sarah Ferrier started working as a crossing guard for Saseenos Elementary School 28 years ago, and her warm smiles and waves have been a small beacon of positivity for students and drivers ever since.
At least, that’s how principal Gord Johnson feels.
“She’s just a fixture in our community, a recognizable face, a friendly face,” Johnson says. “I know just how much saying ‘hi’ and smiling at someone can change your day, and she does that for everyone that sees her.”
Ferrier grew up in Metchosin and now lives in Sooke. She got the crossing guard job after a local bus driver told her about the open position.
“That’s how I got my foot in the door,” she says. “It was bringing in a bit of pocket money to supplement the husband’s pay cheque.”
Ferrier, a mother of two adult women, stuck with the job, making connections with kids, parents – even drivers. She arrives early each morning, in case kids get dropped off early.
The first year, Ferrier would smile and wave as a thank you to drivers for stopping and driving safely. But even after dealing with frustrated, distracted and just plain bad drivers, she’s maintained that positivity.
|Sarah Ferrier waves to a bus driver as she guards the crosswalk outside Saseenos Elementary School on March 5. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)|
Ferrier understands people can be grumpy in the morning. After a divorce, she has her own baggage, but doesn’t bring that to the school.
“Nobody needs to see that, they’re going through their own problems,” she says. “Now I have some (drivers) – if I have my back turned – they’ll beep their horn so I’ll turn and then we’ll wave at each other.”
But it isn’t just drivers who benefit. Before COVID-19, the crossing guard would always let kids push the button for the flashing yellow lights, and she often receives drawings and pictures from the little students. At home she has a folder bursting with their creations.
Some of the kids she helped to safely walk across the street years ago now cross with their own kids.
But Ferrier has also had a front row seat to the changes on Sooke Road. It’s much busier now than 28 years ago, she says.
“I have close calls maybe once every three days or so,” she says. “Just people not really paying attention. The ones that get me the most are the ones that are looking down at their phone and not at where they’re driving.”
But even when the job is frustrating, Ferrier sticks to her guns. She doesn’t plan on retiring until the end of the 2026 year.
“She does her job with a smile on her face – rain, snow, sun, whatever,” Johnson says. “For kids using the crosswalk, that’s their first contact with Saseenos. She’s really pleasant and wonderful.”