Edgeworth crossing guard Melanie Moul named Herald Woman of the Year

Friday, April 13, 2018 | 11:00 PM

She’s known as “Miss Mel,” and kids know on hot days there will be ice pops on her corner.

More than 30 elementary school children might pass by Melanie Moul’s post each morning and afternoon at Meadow Lane and Chestnut Road in Edgeworth. In that brief span of time, she learns about them, their families, their hopes, their dreams and their fears.

On hot days she brings ice pops from Safran’s. At Halloween she arrives in costume and at Christmas she wears festive attire. Sometimes, she shovels the crosswalks.

“This is my favorite job that God chose for me,” said Moul, 52, who studied at Geneva College, with the goal of counseling students. “I want to be a happy point when they go to school in the morning. Sometimes they write me notes. All of those notes are in my Bible. And when I’m down, I read those notes. And I think, ‘This is where God richly planted me.'”

For her dedication to making children feel safe, Melanie Moul has been named the Sewickley Herald Woman of the Year for the newspaper’s 42nd annual Sewickley Herald Man, Woman & Citizens of the Year event, celebrating people and organizations whose commitment drives community spirit. The event is set for May 11 at the Edgeworth Club.

Being a crossing guard was a path she didn’t think she’d take. Edgeworth Police Chief John English suggested she apply.

“She does so much more than just the job,” he said. She reaches out to the children, and they trust her and look forward to seeing her, he said.

The students who pass through in the morning and afternoons are from Sewickley Academy or Edgeworth Elementary. She makes an effort to know every child’s name.

“I just grow with them,” said Moul, who’s been a crossing guard for about five years. “And I want my parents to trust that I am here.”

She works to keep the mood light, while carrying a weighty responsibility of shepherding children safely across the street.

“It’s a big job. Kids can dart and kids can talk. For me it’s a major balancing act on the corner. You need to be moving cars and you need to be moving kids along,” she said.

She listens even as she’s watching traffic, and the children notice. They show her medals they’ve won. They tell her about their day. Sometimes, they might share they are apprehensive about school.

Moul said this is the place where she feels most at home, and a place where she always knew she’d return. She grew up in Aliquippa and graduated from Aliquippa. She is a lifelong member of St. Stephen’s Church. Her father was a teacher at Quaker Valley High School.

She moved to California for a time, living in San Francisco. But she was glad, she said, to return home.

Moul said she’s grateful she fell into the job. Each day, from 8:30 until about 9 a.m. and then again from 3:30 until about 4 p.m., students know they will see “Miss Mel.”

Moul wants to be that crossing guard. The one who knows just what the kids need and what might help.

“Crossing guards know things,” she said.

When it’s time for state standardized tests, Moul will hand out sticks of gum, considered a way to help calm nerves while taking a test. When the last day of school nears, she might help calm nervous fifth-graders who know they’re going to middle school next year.

“They make my life shine,” she said.

Kimberly Palmiero is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.