This September, when she would normally would be heading back to school, Gisele Young will likely be sleeping in and enjoying another cup of tea.
After 31 years, she won’t be returning to Sir Wilfred Laurier Public School in Brampton. Instead, the soon-to-be 95-year-old Young will be calling it a career – one of several she has had – as a crossing guard.
Young says it is time to move on even though she will miss the routine and the children who have lovingly embraced her like a member of the family.
“They say, ‘Hi grandma,’ and I enjoy that,” she said, adding that the diverse makeup of the community makes it extraordinary as well as enjoyable. “Every day I meet people from all nationalities and they’re beautiful.”
Young said she has seen so many students come and go over the years, watching them grow up and returning later with their own children. As she has watched the students go from the elementary grades onto high school and university, she is pretty confident that she remembers every one of them.
“Some come back, stand in front of me and say, ‘I don’t suppose you remember me?’ but of course I remember them,” she said.
Known for her durability, Young took pride in making sure she showed up for her shifts. The first from 8:30 to 9 a.m. and then again from 3:30 to 4 p.m. every school day, whether it be in the depths of snow or the blistering heat. Her dedication didn’t go unnoticed and in 2015 she was named one of Canada’s favourite crossing guards and presented with an award from Parachute Canada, a national safety group.
A native of Timmins in Northern Ontario, Young has retired from a few careers, first as a manager of a lodge and later as a quality assurance advisor at a plastic company. Each time retirement didn’t suit her, but this time she thinks it will stick as she intends to spend more time with her several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
For now, the orange vest and stop sign she patrolled the intersection of Rambler Dr. and Bartley Bull Pkwy. with for so many years have been put away. But for Gisele Young, another career is still not out of the question.
Photo: At 95, Gisele Young has retired as the crossing guard at Sir Wilfred Laurier Public School in Brampton.