Huntley Hills Elementary Crossing Guard Honored by Safe Routes GA.
Though the work is serious, Haney conducts it with a smile. As they arrive at Huntley Hills, parents and students alike bid Haney—known to them as Ms. Penney—a good morning. She often returns the greeting including each student’s first name.
“It’s a great start to my day to see all the children’s smiling faces first thing in the morning,” Haney says.
Such practices and more have earned Haney the distinction of Most Outstanding Crossing Guard in the Metro Atlanta region for the 2017-2018 school year by Safe Routes to School Georgia. She joins three others from Bibb, Muscogee and White counties in sharing this annual, statewide honor.
“I’m shocked—I didn’t know anything about any of it,” Haney said. “I just love the job and love the kids. I like getting to know everyone. This is a great school to be a part of.”
Haney, a crossing guard for more than 27 years, said she has worked every crossing in and around Chamblee. Today, she is stationed at Huntley Hills Elementary in the morning and Austin Elementary in the afternoon.
“I started at Huntley Hills,” Haney said. “My kids went to school here. I was walking to meet them one day and an officer at the time told me she needed somebody to cover a crossing, and that’s how I started. I worked it for more than 10 years before I moved.”
Haney’s presence can be felt at her crossing even when she is not there. The intersection is marked by stone paths of her own design as well as gifts. Haney crafts works of art bearing student names each month. On the last Friday of the month, Huntley Hills students are able to take these gifts home.
“I stay busy,” Haney said.
Haney’s ability to make her crossing pleasant, welcoming and ultimately safe for students has earned her statewide honor. By going beyond stopping cars, setting up signs and wearing high-visibility clothing, Haney—and other DCSD crossing guards like her—make schools a healthier learning environment.
“I love the job and I’ve been doing it a long time,” Haney said. “I love everything about it. I just enjoy it.”
Huntley Hills principal Mia Ford said that Haney is not just a crossing guard at the school, but a cherished family member.
“She personally gets to know each and every child and parent. Daily, she greets kids with a smile and hug. She knows each child by name and decorates her corner with their personal name plate,” Ford said. “On ‘Walk to School’ days, she personally bakes cookies and special treats the night before and packages them for the kids.”
Ford said the Huntley Hills environment is greatly improved by having Haney at the school.
“Ms. Penney’s presence is gentle and calming, which helps all residents have a great start to their day,” Ford said. “Luckily, she is present rain or shine keeping everyone safe. She is a tremendous asset to our school and the Huntley Hills community!”
For more information on Penney Haney’s accomplishment as well as the Safe Routes to School program, visit www.saferoutesga.org.