Ellen Cipriani, a school crossing guard at Riverview Elementary, has been selected as the Florida School Crossing Guard of the Year by the Florida Department of Transportation. Her nomination was one of more than 100 from across the state.
Twice a day, rain or shine, the 71-year-old active retiree can be seen at her familiar spot on Hannaway Dr. and Lavista Lp., making sure children safely cross the street.
Cipriani has been a crossing guard with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department for more than nine years.
“Once I started working as a crossing guard I realized this job was absolutely designed for me so I could continue to be active and serve the children in my community,” she said.
She has tried to remember those children’s names through the years as she helps them cross the street, greeting them with a smile or a kind remark.
Keeping the children safe is always her first priority. She frequently has to blow her whistle when cars are driving too fast through the school zone or refusing to stop so the children can cross the street.
“Every morning I pray for myself, the other crossing guards and the children,” she said. “We’re out there every day putting our lives in danger to protect children, but I just love what I do.”
In total, Hillsborough County had five nominees for the award, including Janet Anderson at Grady Elementary, Xavier Davis at Mintz Elementary, Norman Jones at Seffner Elementary and Donald Spohr at Northwest Elementary.
All nominees were recognized at an award ceremony on February 17, which is Florida Crossing Guard Appreciation Day. In addition to a plaque and congratulatory letter, Cipriani’s school principal and PTA president were on hand to present her with flowers for her achievement.
“I had no idea I was the winner,” said Cipriani.
Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault, P.E., recognized the importance of crossing guards to protect our schoolchildren.
“Crossing guards help ensure the safety of Florida’s students as they travel to the classroom and leave their campuses each and every day,” he said. “I am proud to recognize crossing guards and crossing guard programs for their positive impact on our schools and communities.”
“I want to leave an impact on other people’s lives and serve and protect my community,” Cipriani shared. “That’s why it’s easy to do what I do.”
For more information, visit https://www.fdot.gov/safety/2a-programs/schoolcrossingguard.shtm.