WILKES-BARRE, PA (March 2, 2021) For 100 years, AAA School Safety Patrollers around the world have provided school-aged children an extra sense of safety and security when going to and from school. As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across Northeastern Pennsylvania, Patrollers and their advisors had to pivot quickly to keep those programs going.
“The pandemic took many aspects of daily life away from students this year,” said Jana L. Tidwell, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “As it has through the past 100 years, the AAA School Safety Patrol program, along with its Patrollers and advisors, adapted and came up with new ways to make the program a success.”
Created to make schoolchildren safer while walking to school, the program has grown-up and matured with the times while remaining steadfast to its mission to provide a safer environment and leadership opportunities for millions of schoolchildren. Started as a boys-only initiative when horses and buggies were still a transportation mode, the program evolved to include girls. The training that Patrollers receive instills safety sense beyond street crossings, including bus and car drop-offs, monitoring hallway congestion, and teaching Patrollers invaluable leadership skills. The famous Patroller belt has seen change, too, going from white to neon orange to today’s fluorescent green called ‘Lectric Lime.
“Patrollers direct children, not traffic. Their focus is on helping students be safe where traffic is concerned,” said AAA Traffic Safety Advocacy and Community Impact Manager Rhonda Shah. “Their actions save lives. Patrollers serve as role models in schools across the country.”
The program and its more than 440 Lifesaving Award recipients have contributed to the steady decline of U.S. student pedestrian (ages 5–14) deaths—a 24% decrease since 2010.
Greater Nanticoke Elementary Center
AAA School Safety Patrol Advisor Ed Grant, Jr. of Greater Nanticoke Elementary Center in Nanticoke says his Patrollers are still serving as leaders within their school community despite being under a hybrid model.
“Students help ensure proper distancing on school buses and encourage strong overall behavior,” says Grant. “In the classroom, our teachers still rely on Patrol members when needed. Overall, our students still take great pride in being a Patrol member under our new guidelines that we are under during this pandemic. We rely on our Patrol members to model proper social distancing and proper sanitizing when moving throughout their school day.”
Soloman-Plains Memorial Elementary School
Christine Hayward, Advisor of the Soloman-Plains Memorial Elementary School Safety Patrol says that the Patrol had been active at the beginning of the school year but in October, the school switched to virtual learning.
“In the fall, Patrollers did an amazing job of making sure students were socially distancing while on the bus,” says Hayward. “Our students come back in the first week of March and we are planning on having our Patrol up and running that week.”
Were YOU a Safety Patroller?
As AAA celebrates the AAA School Safety Patrol’s 100th Anniversary, we are looking for stories from former Patrollers. If you would like to share your Safety Patrol story, visit our web page here.
Former Patroller and AAA Wilkes-Barre Retail Operations Associate Dawn Lynge-Pruden remembers her time as a Patroller as one that was very important to the safety of students getting into the school building.
“At my Safety Patrol post, I was a helper in directing traffic for the parents dropping off the children in front of the school - routing them away from the children that were coming out of the cars,” says Lynge-Pruden. “I had to make sure that a car did not move until a child came from a car or bus, crossed a lane and came to the entrance of the school. I had a pole with a flag on it to direct or to block or to stop the vehicles.”
Notable Patrollers include Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, astronauts, governors, members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, Olympic medalists, and authors, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid Jeff Kinney. President Joe Biden was also a Patroller while he was a student in Scranton, Pa.
The 2020–21 school year, different as it may be, boasts 679,000 Patrollers in 35,000 schools in the United States. The legacy doesn’t stop here, however. Over the last 100 years, interest in and excitement for the program have spread around the world. The AAA model has been adopted in at least 30 other countries, including England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.
Since 1920, AAA provides various equipment and education materials to Patrollers, including reflective belts, patrol badges and training resources. To learn how to bring the AAA School Safety Patrol to your school, email SchoolSafetyPatrol@national.aaa.com.
About AAA: AAA provides more than 61 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 30 motor clubs and more than 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.
AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 60 million members nationwide and more than 3.2 million members in Pennsylvania. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile appss for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.AAA.com.