Even though school has been out an unusually long time, an 81-year-old crossing guard says that helping children arrive and leave safely is one of the highlights of her day.
Geneva McKnight, 81, has been directing Hobgood Elementary School traffic since 1997. She does the work for Murfreesboro City Schools as an employee of Murfreesboro Police Department.
She directs traffic on the side entrance located off South Baird Lane. She said she has no plans to retire.
“I’m not going to leave it until I can’t get in my car and get there,” she said.
McKnight said she took the job as crossing guard after retiring from Kroger’s meat department. Before that, she ran a small country store on Manchester Highway — McKnight’s Market. That retirement lasted only about a year.
She also volunteers on a regular basis at Greenhouse Ministries, where she has helped sort through linen donations since 2015. Other than attending church at Kingdom Ministries, Greenhouse has been one of her major social outlets during the pandemic shutdown of schools.
She likes to stay busy, and she gets bored if she stays home too much, she said.
“I don’t like to dust,” McKnight said.
Young children are a delight to her, McKnight said. She was a foster parent for years.
The paid job, the volunteer job and the previous fostering all meant McKnight met lots of people she would never have known otherwise, she said.
The city often needs crossing guards, she said, and the work is not demanding — it takes one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon. In return, she said, she meets many people, and especially enjoys the children.
Most people think the work is hard, but it is not, she said.
“You just have to keep your mind on what you’re doing and just do it,” she said.
McKnight said she used to take her grandson, Wheel Bell, with her to the crossing guard job until he entered kindergarten. He would sit in a stroller under a tree during nice weather.
One of her daughters, LaDonna Bell, said she believes her mother is one of the oldest crossing guards in the county or city.
The Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office said its oldest crossing guard is 79, while the MPD says it has two crossing guards born one year earlier than McKnight.
When asked about working outdoors, McKnight said she would prefer to work in the rain rather than a windy day, but sunshine is the best.
In addition to Bell, McKnight’s other daughter is Renee Haston.
McKnight, who attended Halls Hill and Kittrell schools, said she likes to work in her yard and cut grass — she was a master gardener. She is involved in several women’s groups.
Those are all hobbies. Volunteering at Greenhouse Ministries, which helps the less fortunate, is different.
“I feel like I’m called to be at Greenhouse,” she said.