Two hours a day, whenever school is in session, you can find Debra Caputo helping students cross the street safely to FishHawk Creek Elementary School (F.C.E.S.). Students and parents at the school appreciate her so much that she was recently nominated for America’s Favorite Crossing Guard.

Caputo, who has lived in FishHawk since 2009, began her work as a crossing guard soon after moving to the area as a way to become part of the community.

“I think this job attracts people who want quality in their day,” said Caputo. “For me is a great way to make relationships and bring happiness to people’s lives.”

FishHawk residents and F.C.E.S. parents Stefanie Goodwin and Kristin Taylor nominated Caputo for the award after working with her on the school’s Walk to School Day.

“Ms. Debbie makes our walk to school successful every day,” said Goodwin. “She always puts our children’s well-being first. She teaches our parents patience and educates our families in a loving way about safety. As soon as Kristin and I learned about America’s Favorite Crossing Guard we knew Ms/ Debbie deserved to be a candidate.”

A former recreational therapist, Caputo uses skills from her previous life to strengthen her relationships with the students and parents she sees every day.

“I started out by thinking, how can I have fun with the kids?” she said.

“I tell the kids, you can come to me any time with anything you don’t feel comfortable talking to a parent or teacher about,” she said. “I want them to know I will always be a safe place for them, even when they are in middle and high school.”

Caputo received more than 1,000 votes and won ninth place in the nationwide contest.

“It meant so much to me that people see what I want to do,” she said. “We all have the ability to make a difference in people’s lives.”

For more information on America’s Favorite Crossing Guard, visit

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is currently hiring crossing guards. For more information, visit or call 247-8000.

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Kate Quesada is the Multimedia Manager for the Osprey Observer Newspapers. She has been working for the paper in various positions since 2005 when she graduated with her Masters degree in mass communications. She lives in Valrico with her husband Mike and son Dylan.