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On Island Profile: Ernestine Nicholas

Oct. 1, 2007 — Come wind, rain or high water, school crossing guards are on the streets of the Virgin Islands guarding school children.
One of those guards, Ernestine Nicholas, a petite woman in a crisp white blouse, navy skirt, dark stockings and navy cap, is on the street even if school is canceled by bad weather.
"Nicholas is very dependable and efficient," says Sgt. Charles Orange of the V.I. Police Department traffic bureau. He oversees the crossing guards. Twice a day throughout the school year, motorists and pedestrians at the intersection near the entrance to Lew Muckle Elementary School see Nicholas' familiar face.
She has been a guardian of school children for 11 years. She was promoted to school crossing guard supervisor at the beginning of this school year.
When Ilma Martinez retired as supervisor, Nicholas decided to apply for the position. Nicholas says she was surprised and pleased to be chosen. She supervises 18 guards at public schools and one at St. Mary's School in Christiansted. Her only challenge as supervisor is getting them all to cooperate with her, Nicholas says.
The only problem she has with parents is when she asks them to quickly drop off their kids at the curb.
"Some parents take forever fussing with their child's hair or uniform," Nicholas says.
Gov. John deJongh Jr. proclaimed the last week of September as School Crossing Guard Week. "School crossing guards perform a valuable community service every day of the year in a safe, responsible and effective manner," a Government House news release said. "… School crossing guards are deserving of recognition for their tireless, unselfish service to the community."
Orange did not hesitate when asked to come up with a guard deserving of recognition.
"Ernestine is well-respected, and the kids love her," he says. "She is very professional and serious in everything she does."
Her duties begin at 7:15 a.m. setting up traffic cones and a sign directing cars to go one way around the school. Nicholas physically directs traffic and ushers students across the street. At 8:15 she takes the cones down and traffic resumes its regular pattern. From 2:15 until 3:15 she does it all over again.
One of her duties during the day is watching the little ones on the playground so they don't run away and try to go home. She goes to the other schools and talks with guards to see that things are running smoothly. She comes up with ideas for safety programs and implements them. She works closely with the principals on a daily basis.
Even if there is a closure because of bad weather she still has to be on duty in case a parent not aware of the closure drops off a child, she says.
Nicholas has fond memories of helping crying kindergarteners adjust in their first few days of school. "A lot of the kids call me Auntie," she says. "Some don't get love and attention at home. I mother them and correct them."
In the office of Lew Muckle School in Sion Farm, teachers and secretaries describe her in glowing terms.
"She is a wonderful and really nice lady," says Emily Melendez, clerk typist. "She is very hardworking, punctual and dependable."
Nicholas, originally from Trinidad, has lived on St. Croix for 35 years. She is married to Evans Nicholas and has seven grown children. Her son Sheldon, a U.S. sailor, left three weeks ago to serve in Iraq.
In her spare time, Nicholas sews all of her clothes and school uniforms for friends. She also enjoys exercising, which keeps her feeling healthy and at the top of her game, as she tells which cars to go, which cars to stop and which cars can turn.
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Oct. 1, 2007 -- Come wind, rain or high water, school crossing guards are on the streets of the Virgin Islands guarding school children.
One of those guards, Ernestine Nicholas, a petite woman in a crisp white blouse, navy skirt, dark stockings and navy cap, is on the street even if school is canceled by bad weather.
"Nicholas is very dependable and efficient," says Sgt. Charles Orange of the V.I. Police Department traffic bureau. He oversees the crossing guards. Twice a day throughout the school year, motorists and pedestrians at the intersection near the entrance to Lew Muckle Elementary School see Nicholas' familiar face.
She has been a guardian of school children for 11 years. She was promoted to school crossing guard supervisor at the beginning of this school year.
When Ilma Martinez retired as supervisor, Nicholas decided to apply for the position. Nicholas says she was surprised and pleased to be chosen. She supervises 18 guards at public schools and one at St. Mary's School in Christiansted. Her only challenge as supervisor is getting them all to cooperate with her, Nicholas says.
The only problem she has with parents is when she asks them to quickly drop off their kids at the curb.
"Some parents take forever fussing with their child's hair or uniform," Nicholas says.
Gov. John deJongh Jr. proclaimed the last week of September as School Crossing Guard Week. "School crossing guards perform a valuable community service every day of the year in a safe, responsible and effective manner," a Government House news release said. "... School crossing guards are deserving of recognition for their tireless, unselfish service to the community."
Orange did not hesitate when asked to come up with a guard deserving of recognition.
"Ernestine is well-respected, and the kids love her," he says. "She is very professional and serious in everything she does."
Her duties begin at 7:15 a.m. setting up traffic cones and a sign directing cars to go one way around the school. Nicholas physically directs traffic and ushers students across the street. At 8:15 she takes the cones down and traffic resumes its regular pattern. From 2:15 until 3:15 she does it all over again.
One of her duties during the day is watching the little ones on the playground so they don't run away and try to go home. She goes to the other schools and talks with guards to see that things are running smoothly. She comes up with ideas for safety programs and implements them. She works closely with the principals on a daily basis.
Even if there is a closure because of bad weather she still has to be on duty in case a parent not aware of the closure drops off a child, she says.
Nicholas has fond memories of helping crying kindergarteners adjust in their first few days of school. "A lot of the kids call me Auntie," she says. "Some don't get love and attention at home. I mother them and correct them."
In the office of Lew Muckle School in Sion Farm, teachers and secretaries describe her in glowing terms.
"She is a wonderful and really nice lady," says Emily Melendez, clerk typist. "She is very hardworking, punctual and dependable."
Nicholas, originally from Trinidad, has lived on St. Croix for 35 years. She is married to Evans Nicholas and has seven grown children. Her son Sheldon, a U.S. sailor, left three weeks ago to serve in Iraq.
In her spare time, Nicholas sews all of her clothes and school uniforms for friends. She also enjoys exercising, which keeps her feeling healthy and at the top of her game, as she tells which cars to go, which cars to stop and which cars can turn.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.