By Ukee Washington

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For years, a Delaware County crossing guard has been giving students a lesson on their way home. We met up with him outside Swarthmore Rutledge School to see how it works.

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When school lets out for the day, the students have a quiz on the corner from crossing guard Ron McCracken.

“The word today is…”

“Ornithology!” the students respond.

“And it means?”

“The study of birds.”


Every morning, at College Avenue and Chester Road in Swarthmore, Ron teaches these students a new word.

Sometimes the words stump the kids.

“‘Unprecedented.’ I had no idea!” said fifth grader Simon Kaplinsky.

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“It’s a really fun idea,” said student Charlie Detweiler. “Every day when we walk home, I wonder what the word’s going to be.”

Ron has been doing this for four years, rain or shine.

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“They make me laugh,” Ron says of the kids. “I make them laugh, and it’s a great way to start our day.”

Ron has the words down to a science. Not too hard, not too easy, nothing adult, nothing political.

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He gave Ukee Washington a sneak peek at upcoming words. “Then finally for Friday, and the kids don’t know this yet, is malamute.”

“I quiz them at the end of the day,” Ron said.

“Do you really!” Ukee said.

“Yes, and I sometimes quiz them the next day: ‘What was the word yesterday?'”

At the end of the week, Ron hands out 3×5 cards with the words.

“There’s too many to memorize!” Simon joked.

But the card helps them practice.

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“You think they’re going to mean one thing and they mean something else,” Charlie said.

Ron said the students are like an extended family, and he loves teaching them as if they were his own.

“How do you feel about what you’re doing?” Ukee asked.

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“I wanted to be more than a crossing guard,” Ron said. “Not that that’s not valuable. But I wanted to make a difference in children’s lives, if only a small thing.”

Ukee Washington