Volunteer guard keeps students safe

Jane Houston has volunteered for the past 20 years, helping MCPS students on their way to and from school.

By Spenser Easterbrook, Editor-in-Chief

From 6:30 in the morning when the first high school buses arrive, to after 4 in the afternoon when the last activity buses have dropped off students, Jane Houston is busy keeping local kids safe.

Houston, who moved to the area in 1972 and began working as a volunteer crossing guard more than 20 years ago, monitors traffic in front of two CHS neighborhoods: Scotland and Muirfield.

According to Alan Heard, the MCPS communications director for the Department of Transportation, Houston does not get any pay for the work she does. He is not aware of anyone else in the county system like her.

“All I’m concerned about is the safety of these kids,” Houston said. “I pray that all these kids get to school safely.”

Over the years, Houston has gotten to know students in the neighborhoods, bus drivers and police officers,  all of whom have praised her work.

Maurice Butler, an MCPS bus operator of six years, drives bus 1209, which drops off Cabin John Middle School students at the Muirfield neighborhood.

“She knows every kid in the neighborhood,” Butler said. “She helps fill the buses up as quickly as possible and empty them out to get traffic going again. It helps a lot.”

Houston, who is often accompanied by her preschool-age grandson, tries to teach children good street habits at a young age.

According to Houston, she teaches the younger kids about safety and even tries to remind the older kids. She also volunteers at local schools.

“She does help out a lot with elementary school kids,” Muirfield resident and senior Roy Zhou said. “She makes sure they don’t run out into the street, and she holds the bus if they’re running late. She gets the attention of cars as the buses stop.”

Not all cars stop, however.

According to Houston, sometimes she has to take the “tag number for people that pass” stopped buses.

One thing is certain, and that’s Jane Houston is dedicated.

“I don’t think she’s ever missed a day,” Zhou said.

Houston does not plan on stopping anytime soon.

“I want to do this as long as I can,” Houston said. “I love putting the kids on the bus and laughing and talking to them. They’re good kids.”