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SVMS Crossing Guard Jerome Sutton awarded $10,000 as a NC School Hero

Jerome Sutton is somewhat of a legend in Union County.

For more than 25 years, the Sun Valley Middle crossing guard has directed traffic rain or shine for thousands of motorists who travel along Wesley Chapel Road every weekday morning and afternoon. His enthusiasm and dedication to his job has earned him a number of accolades from students, staff and even the Town of Indian Trail in years past.

Standing in front a gymnasium full of cheering sixth graders, UCPS leaders and Board of Education members on May 28, Sutton couldn’t help but break out into his signature grin as he received a recognition unlike any other he’d ever earned before: the N.C. School Hero award which was also accompanied by a $10,000 check.

“I need somebody to pinch me. I still can’t believe it,” Sutton said, laughing. “Things like this don’t just happen, so for it to happen to me – I’m so appreciative. I’ve always known that I’m appreciated by the parents, students and community, so this is just double icing on the cake.”

The North Carolina Education Lottery created the N.C. School Heroes campaign to showcase the positive impact teachers, principals, and other school workers have in public schools every day.

This year, parents, teachers, and community members submitted more than 6,000 nominations of individuals who are making a difference in their schools. Two million votes were cast, and Sutton was one of only 10 nominees to be selected as a N.C. School Hero and awarded a $10,000 check. As an added bonus, each Hero’s school also received a $10,000 check.

“There are thousands of heroes like Jerome Sutton doing amazing work in our public schools,” said Mark Michalko, executive director of the N.C. Education Lottery. “Teachers, cafeteria workers, custodians, school resource officers, all make a big difference for our students every day. We’re glad our School Heroes program shines a spotlight on their great work.”

Indian Trail resident Erin Monahan said when she heard about the competition, she immediately knew Sutton would be the perfect fit. She’d never even met or had a conversation with him before, but still felt compelled to share his positivity with others.

“When you’re stuck in traffic and you’re grumpy, and then you see him, you just have to appreciate that positivity,” she said. “He’s such a ray of light and I only know that from seeing him on my commute. I can’t imagine how great it is to be one of the teachers or students who interact with him on a daily basis.”

After the presentation, Sun Valley Middle Principal Ashley Smith said the $10,000 awarded to the school will go towards implementing the Leader in Me program at their school.

“For us, we all know what Jerome does every single day and for him to get recognized is unbelievable. For the school to get recognized is a bonus, but this is really about him,” Smith said. “He brightens so many people and he keeps the children safe. He is a staple in this community and is truly deserving of this award.”

Ashley Ford, UCPS Communications