It’s 7:40 a.m. and time to suit up for traffic duty: boots, long puffy winter coat, earmuffs, mittens, pink traffic vest, saber flashlight, walkie talkie, and stop sign. Then it’s off to the curb on a cold, dark winter day. Even routine duties at school are never routine. Some days everyone seems to be running late. Vehicles back up on the street and surge into the parking lot. High school students straggle to the door with barely a minute before the tardy bell. One morning a young boy got sick on the sidewalk.

This is my first year on parking lot duty, an area of school life our admin team takes very seriously. We have a principal who recognizes every car and driver by the second week even without the window signs. Veterans to parking lot duty are intense about the procedures and consider a smooth duty to be a personal success. I am a bit less stressed about the traffic flow. What I notice is how the simple act of dropping off children at school says a lot about a family.

I am concerned that parents do not always seem to live before their children as if “actions speak louder than words.” If you refuse to follow the school’s traffic system and do your own thing every day, you are saying, “We don’t have to follow the rules.” If you are habitually late, you set a precedent that punctuality is not important. If you put down your window to angrily yell at school personnel about an incident, you model that rude, unkind behavior is an acceptable way to handle conflict. If you are oblivious to cars stacking up behind you and choose that moment for a five-minute lecture in the car, you are certainly not setting up your child for a good day. If your car is so full of trash that it falls out when the door opens, if the pungent odor of marijuana wafts from the open door, just imagine what children are learning about life!

Speaking of the children, I worry about those who regularly get out clutching fast food bags. I wonder about those who always look terribly unhappy. Some do not even respond when I call out a “Good morning.” Some already seem disheveled and disorganized as they grab up their school gear and plod toward the entrance. I do not know every name, but I can still pray for those who are struggling before the day has barely begun.

Fortunately, there are wonderful moments on traffic duty too. Many families consistently follow the rules. When they pull up, their children are ready to jump out with backpacks strapped on and lunches in hand. They call out a cheerful, “Love you,” to each other and launch toward a new day. An occasional parent waves or calls out a word of encouragement to me. There are drivers who wait for other cars instead of pulling ahead. Some children hold the door for others who are walking in. They pick up the errant glove dropped on the sidewalk. They greet me with kind words.

What is my favorite thing about parking lot duty? The ultimate is when a child sees a classmate getting out of the next car, waits for him/her, and grabs a hand or slings an arm around the other child. I have noticed that appearance and gender do not matter to these children. They are happy and friendly and ready to greet another day in the classroom. They are wonderful examples of Christ-like love. Though unaware, they encourage me that our work is not in vain. Whether you have parking lot duty or not, don’t grow weary in well-doing. Every day, look for the little moments in school life that are joyful and remind us that God is at work. We, His servants, must keep waving our lights to shine hope into a dark world, and not only do children need that hope but so do harried parents in the drop off lane.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Dr. Renee L. Mungons has served at Emmanuel Christian School in Toledo, OH, for 38 years. She taught a variety of subjects in grades 4-12. Currently she is the Dean of Curriculum and Instruction for a student body of 517 students. Emmanuel has been accredited by the ACSI since 1992 and subscribed to Curriculum Trak since 2013. Dr. Mungons received her undergraduate degree in elementary education from Faith Baptist Bible College. She earned her master’s in education and Ph.D. at the University of Toledo where she majored in literacy and minored in educational technology. She has been an adjunct professor at Fairview Baptist Bible College in Jamaica where she taught research writing, and she also teaches graduate education courses online for Heidelberg University in Tiffin, OH, in the reading and TESOL endorsement programs. Renee welcomes your questions and comments; you may contact her at