Safe Passage: First Days on the Job for a Downtown Crossing Guard

Angela Diniz guards the intersection of Chambers and Greenwich Streets in Tribeca before the start of school at P.S. 234. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Mar. 29, 2016

On March 22, following a months-long campaign to make Downtown school crossings safer, the city began providing a school crossing guard or NYPD traffic agent at all eight public elementary schools within Community Board 1. “This is a huge victory for Lower Manhattan,” said Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, who led the effort by elected officials, Community Board 1 and the First Precinct.

Its been difficult to find people to take the school crossing guard job. Starting pay is $11.50 an hour and a guards three shifts, totaling just five hours, are spread over an eight-hour day. But newly hired Angela Diniz, whose posts include crossings at P.S. 234, at Greenwich and Chambers Streets, and nearby P.S./I.S. 89, at West and Warren, brings special care and a sense of mission to her work.  

“I’m so proud to take this job,” said Diniz, who came to New York from Rio de Janeiro four years ago. “It makes me so happy.”  

Diniz rises at 5 a.m. in order to get from her home in Washington Heights to her first shift, at 7 a.m. After her last shift ends at 3 p.m. she goes to her second job, parking cars at a Midtown garage until midnight. In Brazil, she worked as a real estate broker and interior designer.

“I go home to sleep, [get up], have coffee and come here again,” said Diniz, who spoke no English when she left her native country and has had to suspend the English classes she was taking at New York University because of her work schedule.     

“It hurts a little bit,” Diniz said of her grueling routine. “I need to do it. I don’t have any other way to make money.”   

“When I took the job I didn’t concentrate on the money,” she added. “I like the benefits and I like to work for the Police Department. My father is a police officer.”  

On her first day at the P.S./I.S. 89 West Street crossing, Diniz was dismayed to see some middle schoolers straying from the crosswalk. On her break, she went into the school and reported her concerns to a staff member, who then wrote a cautionary note that was read to all the students in their homerooms.  

Ever vigilant at her post, Diniz said that she is determined to see that there is never an accident on her shift. “I have to stay alert so every child is safe crossing the street,” she said. “I pray to God that nothing happens.”