UNION COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - A school crossing guard in Union County was named a North Carolina School Hero and awarded $10,000 Tuesday.
Officials with the North Carolina Education Lottery say Jerome Sutton of Union County directs traffic with a smile and a dance as he helps escort students safely to and from school.
Sutton, a crossing guard with Sun Valley Middle School in Indian Trail, brightens the day of the parents and students who see him every morning and afternoon on their way to and from school.
He’s even been honored by the town’s local newspaper for his commitment to students’ safety.
“He is a beloved staple of the Sun Valley area residents’ morning and afternoon commute and he deserves this more than any other school employee I can think of,” said Erin Monahan of Indian Trail, whose daughter attended the school.
Officials say Sutton’s dedication to his job and ability to spread a little joy while doing it led to his selection as one of the 10 winners of the Education Lottery’s School Heroes program.
“I don’t really believe this is happening,” said Jerome Sutton. “Nothing like this has ever happened before. I feel like when you do a job you should put your all into it. People feel comfortable knowing that I am down at the crossing when their child is walking. That makes me feel good. It’s like a big family here.”
The North Carolina Education Lottery created the School Heroes campaign to showcase the positive impacts teachers, principals, and other school workers have in public schools every day.
Parents, teachers, and community members submitted more than 6,000 nominations of individuals making a difference in their schools. Ten heroes were chosen with each receiving a $10,000 award and $10,000 for their school.
“There are thousands of heroes like Jerome Sutton doing amazing work in our public schools,” said Mark Michalko, executive director of the NC Education Lottery. “Teachers, cafeteria workers, custodians, school resource officers, all make a big difference for our students every day. We’re glad our School Heroes program shines a spotlight on their great work.”
Money raised by the lottery assists many of those School Heroes, including $386 million this year that supports the work of school support staff such as office assistants and custodians.
Additional money will help build and repair schools, support the N.C. Pre-K program for “at-risk” four-year-olds, provide college scholarships and grants based on financial need, and help meet school transportation needs.
The lottery raises more than $650 million a year for education. For details on how $16.6 million in lottery funds have made a difference in Union County, click on the “Impact” section of the lottery’s website.