If there was ever a road to happiness, Joe Congiusti found it after retiring to Florida from New York and becoming a school crossing guard. Congiusti is often the first smiling face students from Bevis Elementary School and Randall Middle School see before they enter school and the last one they see before they head home.
Congiusti’s day starts at Bevis Elementary at 6:30 a.m. He arrives early because he will not chance being late. He works at Bevis until 8:05 a.m. and then heads to Randall Middle School to start work at 8:45 a.m. where he wraps up his morning’s work at 10 a.m. His afternoon is spent at both schools, starting at Bevis Elementary from 1:40-2:25 p.m. and ending at Randall Middle from 4:10-4:55 p.m.
Congiusti turned 70 in January and plans to keep serving as a crossing guard as long as he can. His crossing guard schedule provides him with a welcome routine, but he enjoys that every day is a little bit different.
“I see all different kinds of kids — from elementary to middle. I like doing this here because it gives me something to do. I’ve always stayed active. I was a plumbing and heating mechanic in New York. I finished, I’d say, 90 percent of whatever projects I needed to do when we first bought the house here and I just got bored,” Congiusti said.
With a pedestrian count of approximately 200 students for Bevis Elementary and 375 for Randall, Congiusti is no longer bored. Each day has different challenges. He loves the kids and has been able to enjoy seeing them mature, many from elementary to middle school, since he started the job four years ago.
Randall Principal Claire Mawhinney appreciates Congiusti’s dedication to the students’ safety.
“Our crossing guards are an important part of school safety. We have over 300 walkers and bike riders who cross Fishhawk Boulevard each day before and after school. Students and parents can feel safer knowing that these guards are there to alert traffic that students are about to cross,” Mawhinney said.
The crossing guard area supervisor, Matt Hesser, said Bevis and Randall are lucky to have Congiusti.
“He’s hard working and reliable. The kids love him. The parents love him. He’s always got a smile and a joke,” Hesser said.
Melissa Kincheloe, manager of the Crossing Guard Section for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department, is thankful for Congiusti and wants parents to emphasize that guards are there for their kids’ protection.
“Joe is here every day. He cares about the kids and is passionate about their safety,” Kincheloe said. “Parents, talk to your kids. Tell them to listen to the guards. Listen to their instructions.”
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is always looking for qualified crossing guards. For more information, visit www.teamhcso.com.