By Lily Belcher
Dora Parks spends the first two hours of her morning watching the sun rise over Mintz Elementary School while directing traffic and helping families cross safely. While the duty of a crossing guard for Hillsborough County is to help children crossing busy streets and intersections, Parks takes it a step further by brightening each person’s morning with a cheerful greeting and wave when they pass her on their way to school or work.
Every morning, Parks warmly greets each family that crosses her corner on their way to Mintz Elementary, whether it’s waving to their cars or holding short conversations with them while they wait for traffic. She remembers each person and family she sees and is a perfect example of the pleasant and helpful attitude that the sheriff’s office looks for in its crossing guards.
“Dora Parks is a shining example of the type of individual I want safely guiding our children on the way to and from school. Her philosophy, ‘If you see someone without a smile, give them yours,’ isn’t just something she says, it something she lives by every single day when she greets families and kids at her crosswalk,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister.
Parks retired from J.P. Morgan after working in the corporate banking world for 25 years. After retiring last April, however, she was looking for a way to continue to work.
“I’m the type of person who [does not] like to sit around even though I retired,” she said. “And I’m such a people person and I love kids. So, I said, ‘You know what, this is [going to] be a great opportunity for me to become a crossing guard. I mean, it’s only two hours a day, it won’t hurt.’”
She started as a crossing guard in December but took a break for a few months after being offered a position working with special needs kids. The opportunity held a special place in her heart as one of her daughters, Banesia Parks, is a special needs adult. The coronavirus forced her to continue as a crossing guard since it was safer for her health.
“Dora Parks has children of her own, but she also takes care of her students as if they are her own,” said Chronister. “We are incredibly lucky to have her as one of our crossing guards here in Hillsborough County.”