MEMPHIS, Tenn. — International Walk to School Day has a special meaning this year for students and staff at Grahamwood Elementary School. Three weeks after she survived being hit by a car, crossing guard Flora Wallace is being honored.
With her infectious laugh and a personality as big as her smile, it’s easy to see why the woman known as ‘Ms. Flo’ is so beloved.
“It’s something I never knew that I had, but now I do know,” Wallace said. “And I love ’em. I love ’em all.”
Kids, parents and staff dedicated Wednesday morning’s walk to Wallace, who has spent the past eight years keeping students at the school safe.
“It felt so good,” Wallace said. “Y’all gonna make me cry. I’m trying not to cry.”
For years, Grahamwood Elementary’s PTO has been fighting for changes to the dangerous crosswalk, begging city and school leaders to install flashing lights and more signs.
“The city has to put up the signs. They control what happens on the street – the no parking signs, the speed limit signs – and apparently, Shelby County Schools or someone else is responsible for paying for the flashing lights,” PTO member Jennifer Keane said. “I personally feel like it’s just too much red tape for the safety of Grahamwood students.”
Wallace admits she’s had some close calls, but never expected someone would actually hit her.
“Had blew my whistle, walked in the street with my sign in the air, turned around, put it in my right hand to tell the parent and his daughter that they could cross,” she said. “Next thing I know, I saw the hood of a white truck and I was laying face-down in the street.”
But even as she heals, Wallace is adamant her job at Grahamwood isn’t done.
“I’ve got a cracked rib, I have stitches in my right arm, I have skin that’s missing on different parts of my body. But, all in all, I’m still here,” she said. “I’m coming back to Grahamwood, standing at my same post and getting these children across the street.”
The driver accused of hitting Wallace, Robert Wilkins, was issued a citation for failing to yield to pedestrians on a crosswalk, failing to yield to pedestrians right of way, failing to exercise due care, reckless driving and obedience to police officers.
PTO members tell WREG they are now trying to raise $40,000 to make safety improvements outside the school.