Overcoming challenges to become ‘America’s Favorite Crossing Guard’

CSRA News

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) – Two local people are racing towards the finish line to be awarded ‘America’s Favorite Crossing Guard.’ Rain or shine, this man and woman do their best to ensure your kid gets to and from school safely. Although, there is more behind their smiling faces.

Nathaniel Jackson (Nathan) and Connie Tuli are both in the race for ‘America’s Favorite Crossing Guard.’ Their similarities outshine their differences. One is they both find strength in their god.

Every morning near the entrance of Lakeside High and Middle schools on Blue Ridge Drive you’ll hear Tuli’s encouraging phrase, ‘Oh, come on sweetie! You have a blessed day!’

Connie Tuli directs traffic and students on Blue Ridge Drive.

For more than 20 years Tuli, a Mississippi native, has been helping kids get to school in Columbia County.

“I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve made a point of, you know, sharing a little bit of me. Try to bless somebody. I’ve had people stop me in the store and say, ‘you made my day!’ And I’m like, ‘that was my whole point,'” said Tuli.

Over at Grovetown Middle and Lewiston Elementary, you’ll see and hear Nathan Jackson directing traffic. He is a little fresher to the crossing guard game. This is his third year on the job.

Jackson explained, “I love every minute of being a crossing guard. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t love being out here.”

Since hitting the streets, both Tuli’s and Jackson’s stylish yet graceful crossing techniques are getting a lot of attention.

Nathan Jackson greets students on their way to school near Grovetown Middle.

“Makes me feel like I’m trusted, stuff like that because we’re apart of the community. We’re helping serve the community. I like the fact that knowing that the kids can come to me if they have an issue,” said Jackson.

We asked Tuli, ‘You move pretty fast, what’s the secret?’

She responded, “Oh yeah! I don’t know. my kids came home from college one day and said, ‘Mom, everybody at college, in their classes, was saying man your mom dances to them, bows to them.’ I’m like, ‘hey, I’m enjoying myself while doing this.'”

While Tuli and Jackson have their differences, they both say they wouldn’t be able to do their jobs without overcoming challenges with help from God. For Tuli, she’s got to be moving or she starts to have pain.

“That can strengthen you. God gives us things to help us to grow,” Tuli affirmed.

For Jackson, he has a mild form of autism, but that doesn’t hinder him at all.

He said, “To be honest, sometimes I even forget I even have a disability because I just go on about my life.” He also encouraged anyone who has a disability to be themselves and not to worry about what anyone thinks of them.

Both crossing guards said it doesn’t matter to them who wins ‘America’s Favorite Crossing Guard.’ It’s just an honor to be recognized. And if they can help inspire or put a smile on anyone’s face, then they have successfully done their job.

You can vote for either Tuli or Jackson here.

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