Oakdale Elementary, Cincinnati
Best known for: Helping students safely make their way to Oakdale Elementary each morning. Braun volunteers as the school’s crossing guard; he monitors and controls the flow of students and cars passing through the drop-off zone.
Weather’s no factor: “Mr. Braun is outside every morning, rain, snow, or shine, to help students cross from the carpool area to our front doors,” says principal Sandra Bauman.
He stops, he goes: Braun begins his volunteer shift about 7:45 a.m., right after he drops off his son, Matthew, at the middle school. “I set out the cones, go to my post, and stay there until the last bell rings,” he explains. Braun heads home about 9 a.m., once all the “stragglers” have arrived. Later in the day, Braun switches gears and heads to work as a truck mechanic; he works about 50 hours a week on the second shift.
Hold it right there: Braun’s crossing guard duty began when Matthew, now 12, was in 1st grade. At the time, Braun noticed there was no one controlling the morning bustle of cars and students walking aimlessly across the school’s driveway. “I just stood there and started to tell cars to stop,” he says. The position evolved into a permanent assignment; Braun stayed on this year even though his son no longer attends Oakdale.
Worthy of a citation: “He’s polite and says ‘good morning’ and ‘have a nice day’ to each child, with a smile on his face,” says Oakdale PTA president Lorie Schaefer. “The kids just adore him and ask where he is if he misses any day.” PTA leaders surprised Braun with a Friends of Children award last year for his dedication and service to Oakdale’s students. Braun was happy to receive the award but downplays his contributions. “It’s just one job—one task,” he says.
Two-way street: The dad says getting to know the students as individuals makes volunteering each morning worthwhile. “I get to see their school projects, talk about NASCAR and sports teams,” he says. He often receives notes, flowers, and sweets as thanks; his favorite token is a Pokémon picture drawn by a little girl at Oakdale, he says. “It’s been taped to my door.”