George Small crosses students in front of Farwell Elementary SchoolSmall was nominated for a recognition award from the Lewiston School Committee after third-grader Ridley Bourgoin, 9, wrote about him for school. “He shows up no matter what.” Ridley wrote. She also described Small as “awesome!” (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

LEWISTON — He is there every morning before school starts, bravely stepping in front of vehicles on Farwell Street to help students get to school.

George Small “is the best crossing guard ever,” according to Ridley Bourgoin, 9, a third-grader at Farwell Elementary School.

Ridley’s class was assigned to write about noteworthy people who do not get enough attention. She chose George Small.

“He walks into the middle of the street, holds up his stop sign and people stop,” she said Tuesday during the last week of school.

“He doesn’t cross us because it’s his job. He does it to make sure kids are safe. He doesn’t want them to, like, get murdered.”

Her essay led to Small receiving receiving a recognition award from the Lewiston School Committee, which generated many smiles and much applause.

“She was absolutely wonderful,” Small said of Ridley before he crossed her to school.

Small, 70, lives in Auburn and has been a Lewiston crossing guard for almost 30 years. He used to work for Dori Shoe in Lewiston.

“It closed down,” he said. “Imports.”

Around the same time, his mother and father were getting sick.

“I needed to find a job that would allow me to be in and out of the house so I could be home” to care for his parents, Small said.

He saw a newspaper ad for crossing guard applicants.

“I went down to apply for it. They hired me right away,” Small said. “Larry Gilbert, he was the police chief, is the one who hired me. I work for the Lewiston Police Department.”

Small is a dedicated, “very good” crossing guard, said Lewiston Police Sgt. Derrick St. Laurent, a sentiment echoed by Farwell Principal Amanda Winslow, who said Small is always at his post.

“He’s super positive,” Winslow said.

Today there are fewer crossing guards than schools. Lewiston has eight schools and only five crossing guards.

They are hard to come by, according to St. Laurent, who is in charge of the crossing guards.

“Nobody wants to do it,” he said, adding it is not an easy job. “They don’t make much money. You’ve got to be there two or three times a day.”

A crossing guard needs thick skin, St. Laurent said.

“They get the brunt of everybody’s frustration,” he said, “but they have no powers.” 

Small said being a crossing guard is a good job.

“The kids are the benefits,” he said. “I like kids.”

Small has no children of his own.

“These are my kids,” he said, motioning to students crossing the road.

The bad parts of the job are the cold winter mornings and drivers who do not obey the laws. He has had close calls with vehicles when he was stepping into the road.

“I had one just the other day,” he said.

A student on a bicycle was in the crosswalk going to school.  Small was in the crosswalk, wearing his neon-green vest, holding up his red stop sign. The flashing lights informed motorists the speed limit was 15 mph.

“A car was coming,” Small said. “It was kinda going slow enough, but it wasn’t going to stop.”

The vehicle eventually did stop, “but it was so close I had my hand on his hood.”

Small said he does not know why the driver did not stop sooner.

“These yellow lights that are flashing, they’re not Christmas decorations,” Small said.

His job means keeping a close eye on traffic and students.

Sometimes, he said, “if some fool wants to go, let him go.”

Every day, he sees drivers who are texting behind the wheel.

“If they’ve got their head down, you know what they’re doing,” he said. “I see it a lot. I don’t like it. It’s not right.”

Ridley Bourgoin is the daughter of City Councilor Kristen Cloutier and Denny Bourgoin. Cloutier said she was pleased her daughter noticed what Small does and wrote about him.

“So often, we have so many people in this community who do great things every day and don’t get recognition,” Cloutier said. “Sometimes it takes kids to recognize things that adults don’t.”

A few days before the last day of school, which is today (June 21), George Small crosses students in front of Farwell Elementary School. Small was nominated for a recognition award from the Lewiston School Committee after 3rd grader Ridley Bourgoin wrote about Small, saying “he shows up no mater what,” and “he’s awesome!” (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Farwell Elementary School student Ridley Bourgoin, 9, wrote an essay about her school’s crossing guard, George Small, which led to a recognition award from the Lewiston School Committee. (Submitted photo)

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