Friday, October 22, 2021

A passion for keeping her guard up

Kim Katz keeps kids safe at two Flower Mound schools.
Kim Katz keeps kids safe at two Flower Mound schools.

by Dru Murray, Contributing Writer

Keeping Flower Mound’s children from harm has been both Kim Katz’s job and her passion for the last 14 years.

Katz serves as a crossing guard to ensure that Flower Mound Elementary School and Forestwood Middle School students safely traverse very busy streets on their way to and from school.

Her passion for her job is due to her love of the children. Her favorite part of her job as a crossing guard is “the kids, because they are so special and sweet.”

Before becoming a crossing guard, Katz, herself a Flower Mound resident with two children, served Lewisville Independent School District as a substitute teacher. However, when her third-grade son, Nathaniel, a Flower Mound Elementary student, suffered a stroke, life changed.

The stroke required Nathaniel to undergo massive amounts of physical therapy at Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth and the times when Katz needed to take her son to Cook didn’t work well with her substitute-teaching schedule. A crossing guard at FMES suggested to her that becoming a crossing guard might solve her problem and it did.

Katz was able to take her children to school, perform her crossing guard duties, and most importantly, get Nathaniel to his physical therapy sessions.

“I stayed on as a crossing guard after my children left Flower Mound Elementary because I love it,” she said. “Sometimes, I am the first person a child sees. If I’m friendly, it makes a difference in their day.”

One of her biggest joys is her interaction with special needs children, as she recounted her experience with a hearing-impaired child.

“I have known this student at FMES since he was a baby in a stroller. He was so used to seeing me that if I were gone, he would become upset,” she said.

When he began learning to sign, Katz signed to him and his excitement prompted him to hug her.

“I take my job very seriously,” she said. “The job is great. I learn to connect with the children. It’s all in how you treat them.”

Without fail, Katz shepherds children between 7:10 and 7:55 a.m. to safety across Churchill Street and Stratford Lane near Flower Mound Elementary and from 8-8:45 a.m. across Morriss Road and Forest Vista Drive close to Forestwood Middle School.

She also ensures the children have safe journeys home in the afternoons. From 2:35–3:20 p.m. close to FMES and from 3:45–4:45 p.m. south of Forestwood Middle School, Katz is stationed at her posts.

“I tell the kids to be especially careful in alleyways. I tell them to watch for cars backing out. The only problem I have is the weather. Often, it is too hot or too cold. The worst is when it’s storming as the kids have to walk home.”

The Flower Mound Police Department’s traffic unit employs all of Flower Mound’s school crossing guards.

“One of the things they look for when hiring crossing guards is whether you have good rapport with children. The backgrounds of prospective crossing guards are heavily checked and they are fingerprinted,” she said. “The town’s priority is the kids’ safety.”

Katz said she and her fellow crossing guards form an effective team in the pursuit of that goal. To help her co-workers, she has trained new crossing guards.

Sometimes, Katz spots drivers who are obviously exceeding the school zones’ 20 mph speed limit. If she sees repeat offenders, she fills out a form with the offender’s license plate number and gives it to her supervisor.

Her words of advice for drivers approaching schools are: “Slow down and just be cautious. People don’t realize how many kids walk to school and how fast they run. Sometimes, they will try to take shortcuts.”

Occasionally, kids fail to go straight home and when panicked mothers ask Katz for help in locating them, she is able to tell them the direction she saw the children take.

Katz’s dedication to her job has not gone unnoticed. During her tenth year of service, the FMPD presented her with a Crossing Guard of the Year award.

A grandmother whose grandchildren Katz ushered safely across the street numerous times on their way to FMES recently informed her that she planned to invite Katz to her grandchildren’s high school graduation ceremonies.

CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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