Renee Kampa is one of those weather warriors. Kampa is a crossing guard and traffic control person for the Anoka-Hennepin School District.
“She is out there each and every day making it happen,” said Jeff Mueller, Anoka-Hennepin’s Transportation Safety Coordinator.
Kampa is easy to spot on the job. Her definition of dressing for success is a bulky, day-glow yellow jacket. Being visible and staying warm are critical in traffic control.
“You always, always have to overdress,” Kampa said recently before her shift at Roosevelt Middle School in Blaine…”I have to make sure that I am definitely seen – at night time, day time.
There are 55 crossing and traffic control guards in the district. These people are unsung heroes who put up with North Pole-like cold, rain and sauna-like heat in Minnesota’s theater of seasons.
“They just do an excellent job,” Mueller said. “Whether it’s 20 below or whether it’s 90 degrees – they’re out there.”
Battling the weather is a daily challenge in this job, epecially for Kampa who came to Minneosta from balmy Nevada and sometimes wonders what she got herself into.
“Originally I’m from Las Vegas,” Kampa said. “I like the hot heat, so I ask myself that a lot…”You never know what you’re going to get. The weather can say it’s 10 degrees but when the wind blows and the wind chill pops up, then it’s way colder.”
Despite dealing with the elements, Kampa has been doing traffic control for almost five years and has settled into the position.
“I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world,” Kampa said. “It’s a job that I really enjoy doing and the kids are great.”
School pick up and drop off is controlled chaos with cars, trucks and buses converging in the same area.
Said Kampa: “I have to be looking in all directions.”
Kampa and her co-workers orchestrate traffic flow and put themselves at risk while doing so.
“I’ve seen a co-worker hit by a vehicle,” Kampa said. “I’ve seen a few almost get hit by a vehicle. I myself got hit by a vehicle almost.”
“Slow down,” Mueller said. ” Slow down. Please slow down. Watch for those crosswalk marker signs and the speed zones. Be prepared to slow, to stop when you see our students and our guards out there. ”
“Really pay attention to us,” Kampa said. “Listen to us, because our goal is the same as your goal. We want you guys out of here safely, as fast as possible. We want to be out of here as fast as possible, safely.”
One bonus of the job for Kampa is that she establishes a rapport with parents and students.
Said Mueller: “In a lot of cases they’re the first smile a student might see in their day and an encouraging word at the end of the day.”
Said Kampa: I tell the cars to stop because I’ve got precious cargo coming through.”
There is good weather news for Kampa and her cohorts – temps are going to rebound into the 30’s for the next few days.