Elementary school crossing guard retires after more than 30 years on the job

PASADENA – Students and staff of Pomeroy Elementary celebrated a woman who has made a big impact on students' lives -- their beloved crossing guard of 34 years.

The crosswalk near the corner of Burke Road and Jenkins Road just outside Pomeroy Elementary is a place where Tere Brodowski has touched the hearts of many young students.

"I've been doing this for 34 years -- and I love every minute of it," Brodowski said.

Wednesday, these students' last day of class, was also her last day on the job. She is retiring after more than three decades of helping students cross safely.

"I like crossing them because [Jenkins] is a dangerous road. People speed through here. Some cars go by real fast, so they need a crossing guard," Brodowski said. "So, I've enjoyed them. I've saved a couple kids."

Those children, teachers and the school principal wanted to make sure her last day was as special as she was.

"She's given so much to us, and helped keep these children safe, so I just hope that she knows how much we love her and appreciate the job she's done," said Pomeroy Elementary Principal Stephen Harding.

Hundreds of students brought her flowers and cards with simple and sweet words of gratitude. On her last shift Wednesday afternoon, the students surprised her with those gifts. Brodowski had more flowers than she could carry.

"I was shocked. I wanted to cry -- I had no idea," Brodowski said.

"The students' faces just lit up and they were so happy," said teacher Rosalba Robles. "We told them it was going to be a surprised for her, and they were so happy."

The children gave her hugs. Many thanked her in both English and Spanish.

"She has crossed many ... students who are now moms who bring their students," Harding laughed.

Brodowski, equipped with her red stop sign, which she's had for 30 years, said she will miss all the quirks of the job.

"I sweep the mud off the street -- so they don't fall. This [sign] has been a broom, a shovel, a mosquito swatter, an ant killer," Brodowski laughed.

She also carried a 100-year-old whistle, which belonged to her grandfather, who was a police officer.

"It still works!" Brodowski said.

Ultimately, she said, she will miss her students and the kind people who have always made her job pleasant.

"We want to tell her, 'Thank you,' and that's she's appreciated and that her job means the world to us," Robles said.

The community was there to wish her luck as she walked that crosswalk -- one last time.

"The burst of energy and love [the students] gave me -- they were so loving. It was nice. It was a nice surprise," Brodowski said.