MassDOT Honors Beloved Franklin Crossing Guard


The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), through the Massachusetts Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program, earlier this month held its annual awards ceremony to recognize the program’s partner schools, community champions, stakeholders and crossing guards who have made significant contributions within their communities by strengthening, promoting and improving safety for students walking, biking, and rolling to school.

“MassDOT is pleased to work with Safe Routes to School Program partners and communities to help facilitate pedestrian and bicycle safety across the Commonwealth,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler. “The program offers a variety of valuable tools and resources that can be used to help reinforce with members of the public the importance of being safe while walking or biking to school and maintaining healthy routines and habits.”

The Safe Routes to School awards are open to all school and alliance partners and community stakeholders. This year’s Awards Ceremony honored 173 schools across the Commonwealth that completed SRTS activities and events qualifying them for partner level awards of Basic, Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Awards for Exemplary Program were presented to five schools and the Community Collaboration and Nikki Tishler Memorial awards were announced.

For the second year, the program recognized the important role crossing guards have in supporting our families’ safety as they access schools and neighborhoods across the Commonwealth. More than 240 nominations were submitted as part of the Crossing Guard of the Year Award solicitation, nearly 70 more than for last year’s inaugural awards.

According to MassDOT Communication Director Kristen Pennucci, this year, the Safe Routes to School Program received an incredible 244 nominations for 70 crossing guards "along with so many amazing photos." 

"Program staff were so excited to see all the support and appreciation that crossing guards received from their local communities. They had asked for nominations from communities across the Commonwealth for this award.," she explained.

The selection is based on stories of safety, dedication, and commitment to students and the community within and outside of their duties as a crossing guard. Finalists were chosen by the Massachusetts Safe Routes to School team and MassDOT.

Marilyn Johnson of Franklin received the award of Crossing Guard Champion.

Marilyn has guided the students at Helen Keller Elementary School for over 20 years. Beyond being a constant warm welcoming start and finish to the students’ school day, Marilyn has been a huge advocate for safety, partnering with the Franklin Police Department to keep crosswalks safe and often reminding motorists to slow down and be alert.

A recent Facebook post by Marilyn regarding crosswalk safety received hundreds of likes and comments from past and current school families. They talked about how lucky they feel to have Mrs. Johnson at  their school and how their students feel loved and safe with her.

Marilyn will be retiring after this year and her community wanted her to know how much they have appreciated her.

For her part, Johnson explained that she has  been a teaching assistant at the Helen Keller School for 20 years and has also been the crossing guard before and after school since 2011 at Keller. "I was one of four crossing guards chosen to be honored as Crossing Guard Champions by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. I was honored at a ceremony at my school and presented the award by a Representative from MassDOT and my principal, Eric Stark. "I was honored for being an advocate for safety, partnering with the Franklin Police Dept. to keep the students and their families safe to and from school," she said.

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