COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. - A school-year job has turned into a special lifestyle for Garnetta "Sue" Poe of Colonial Heights. After 49 years of being a school crossing guard, the community cannot help but highly value her commitment and unique approach.
"She is the greatest. She's out here every day, morning, afternoon, everything else, helping the kids cross," John Kollmann, Lakeview Elementary grandparent, said.
"She greets every child like it's her grand baby," Lakeview Elementary School parent Melissa Paiz added.
Poe, who will turn 85 in September, has served as a crossing guard at the high school, middle school, and elementary school. However, there is little doubt which she would call her favorite: Lakeview Elementary.
The feeling from the school is mutual, displayed by the way hugs and kisses are shared between Poe and school faculty, students, and parents day in and day out.
Not only does the school system value her dedication, but the city recognizes her commitment as well.
"A city employee for 49 years is just amazing," Colonial Heights Mayor Greg Kochuba said.
"A crossing guard that comes in in the morning, leaves, and then comes back in the afternoon, those jobs are tough to fill, much less find somebody that's done it 49 years," Police Chief Jeff Faries said.
After serving the community and schools for so long, she is hanging up her badge to undergo knee-replacement surgery. However, if not for the procedure, she said she'd be back in the fall for another joyful year. Finding someone to fill her shoes will be quite difficult, Chief Jeff Faries said. He called Poe "irreplaceable."
"She has touched the lives of children, parents, and grandparents that have walked across these streets," Chief Faries said.
Parents and community members alike share how much she will be missed in the years to come.
"You expect to see her face. We're going to miss her next year, we will," Kristen Shortt, Lakeview Elementary parent, said.
"When you really sit down and think about the numbers and how long it's been, and how many kids she's seen here, it's kind of mind boggling," Patrick Neuman, Principal of Lakeview Elementary, said.
When asked if she had to go back and do it over again, she would do the exact same thing.