Nearly 42 years ago, Clara Hernandez started her first day as a school crossing guard.
Today, the nearly 98-year-old woman dubbed the “Mama Patrol” is still going strong in the Harlandale Independent School District.
On school days Hernandez, who joined Nov. 11, 1979, can be found at the corner of Southcross Boulevard and Pleasanton Road, helping Adams Elementary School students safely get to and from class.
“I love my kids. I love them. They’re like mine,” said Hernandez, who was recently featured in a video on HISD’s social media.
A longtime Harlandale neighborhood resident, Hernandez recalled first hearing about schools needing crossing guards. She immediately filled out an application.
“They called me right away,” Hernandez said.
She has spent nearly all of her crossing-guard career patrolling at Adams. Over the decades she has received various honors from the San Antonio Police Department, which oversees the school crossing-guard program.
Hernandez’s longevity has led to accolades from students’ families and school employees, as well as the nickname “Mama Patrol.”
Adams Principal Julia Gimbel remembers seeing Hernandez safeguarding students as she and her siblings walked to class as children.
“(Hernandez) is an amazing citizen of our community who keeps our students and families safe here at Adams and our surrounding middle and high schools, rain or shine,” Gimbel said. “Her continued dedication to our families is admirable and a pillar to the Harlandale community.”
The almost-centenarian said she is grateful for the praise.
“I’m glad (SAPD, Adams Elementary) appreciate me,” Hernandez added.
According to Hernandez, she has never encountered a close call with a motorist during any of her shifts.
“Nothing has happened with any of the drivers. They respect me,” she said.
Hernandez said her supervisor joked about her stamina and willingness to remain a crossing guard.
“My supervisor told me to be careful, don’t rush, just take care of your kids like you always do, and that’s what I do,” she said.
Hernandez does not plan to hang up her handheld stop sign or whistle anytime soon.
“(SAPD) asks me, ‘How long are you going to stay?’ I say, ‘For however long,’ but if they think I’m not doing good enough anymore, I guess I’ll quit,” Hernandez laughed. “That’s why they got us (crossing guards) here, to take care of (students), and that’s what I’ve been doing all these years and I’m going to keep on doing it.”