For crossing guard Tabitha London, the East Lincoln Elementary School community was more than just a job. London has served as a mother, a friend and as a source of compassion for many of the students passing through the crosswalk during the early mornings and afternoons.

London has been employed at the elementary school for four and a half years. During that time, London underwent several trials and tribulations through which the East Lincoln community was there to support her every step of the way. When London’s son James, an East Lincoln fourth-grader, passed away from asthma attack in 2016, the school planted a weeping willow tree in his memory in front of the school.

“The tree is the legacy of my son always being a student at East Lincoln. It is also like a vow that I will always dedicate myself to this school and its students,” London said.

After several years of working with the school, London is resigning her position to take care of her 14-year-old daughter Jamaya, after a lumbar puncture left her learning to walk again. London is sad about leaving the school as she described East Lincoln Elementary as her second family.

“Kids need a lot, and I try to do that for them. Sometimes all they need is a hug or just someone to talk to. Other times they need a motherly figure and a support system,” London reflects. “I only hope that the next person to fill my shoes can be compassionate and care for these kids like I do. They need that.”

East Lincoln Elementary School leaders are just as sad to see London leave.

“Tabitha has been brightening our children’s and staff’s mornings and afternoons for the past four and a half years,” said East Lincoln Principal Scott Hargrove. “She has served East Lincoln as much more than a crossing guard. Tabitha has been a surrogate parent to many of our students. She will be greatly missed.”

Before London said her final goodbyes to the school on Wednesday, she lined the kids up single file for a hug, and she reminded them to keep their heads up because, she told them, they can’t see their blessings if they are looking down. London also passed out goodie bags to the children, for which she would like to thank Zaxby’s, Sonic Drive-In and Glow Golf of Tullahoma. Each business provided a voucher for the kids to receive a small gift.

London also thanked the Tullahoma Fire Department for everything it has done for her over her term as crossing guard.

Faith Few can be reached via email at ffew@tullahomanews.com