Chattanooga school crossing officer stops traffic and spreads smiles at busy intersection
A school patrol officer is stopping traffic and spreading smiles across downtown Chattanooga.
In this week's Pay It Forward, the parents and students of Battle Academy thank Melanie Clemons for keeping them safe at one of the city's busiest intersections.
Melanie Clemons, or Ms.Mel as the students lovingly call her, has been a school patrol officer for nearly four years.
The kids tell us every holiday they know she'll have gifts and treats for them, but its the day-to-day hugs and trust they have in her that make them feel safe during rush hour.
If you hear the whistle on the corner of Main and Market in downtown Chattanooga, most likely its Ms. Mel running the show as kids walk to school.
Aaron Cole says she knows his kids' names and everybody else's too.
"She's very nice to everybody, and she's a nice friend," said Aaron's son, Og Cole.
Aaron says the intersection in front of Battle Academy is infamous for impatient drivers and heavy traffic during the early morning rush.
"I think it's very, very busy. I think it's dangerous too, especially in the morning. So many people use it to get out of the city," said Aaron Cole.
But the students know Ms. Mel will keep a close eye out for them, holding drivers accountable no matter the cost.
"I've seen her step out in front of cars, to slow people down. I've seen people throw their drink in the morning at her," said Aaron.
So this morning, these kids and their parents want to show her just how much she's appreciated.
"Ms. Mel, on behalf of Newschannel 9 and the McMahan Law Firm, I want to Pay It Forward to you for taking care of our kids so much. We love you so much. Here's $500 for you. Everybody, give Ms.Mel a big hug!" surprised Aaron.
After the surprise, complete with flowers and hand written cards from the kids, she explained why she goes above and beyond.
"I love children, just keeping them safe, after the tragedy with the children on the school bus, it hurt my heart," said Ms. Mel.
Ms. Mel says after the Woodmore bus tragedy she became more alert and aware of her surroundings.
But she also puts greater value on putting a smile on everyone's face as they start their day.
"Thanks Mel!" said a parent.
"You're welcome, have a good day!" said Ms. Mel.
Do you know someone who deserves $500 cash for helping others? Nominate them here!