Northeast Side crossing guard uses music to communicate with students and parents

Every school morning at Steubing Ranch Elementary, parents drop off their children to the sound of congas, maracas and timpani echoing in the air.

In front of the recently curved entrance, mothers and fathers waited on the sidewalk with their children to cross white tilted stripes painted on the gray tarmac.

Nobody advanced. They waited for the signal from Brigadier Ana Margarita Stubblefield, who was taking two steps in front of them. They only proceeded when she stopped the circulation with a blow of her arm, in time with the infectious plena, a dance genre native to Puerto Rico, and salsa music blaring from its black CD player.

” Hello ! She said as the walkers crossed the street. “Hello. Buenos dias!

Waving a black signal wand with an orange cone, she swayed and sang along with the beats. Student Patrols were holding poles with stop signs on both sides of the street as they kept traffic going with an eye on pedestrian safety. Stubblefield nodded at Frani Gollub, 38, who was walking with his 7-year-old daughter, Alyssa. Seeing the cheerful guard swinging gracefully in the morning is a comfort to the couple.

“She made it really special to all of us,” Gollub said. “She’s like an aunt to all of us.”

Air Force veteran for 22 years, Vincent T. Davis began a second career as a journalist and found his vocation. As he watches and listens through San Antonio, he finds intriguing stories to tell about ordinary people. He shares his stories with Express-News subscribers every Monday morning.

Since 2007, Stubblefield has lifted the spirits of students, parents and colleagues with its lively dawn attitude. From 7:00 a.m. to 7:50 a.m., she keeps traffic on the North East Independent School District campus from Kindergarten to Grade 5. During the school day, she helps the students as a teaching assistant in the school’s science laboratory.

“I love my job,” said Stubblefield, 59. ” I like what I do. It is the human bond.

Singing Latin songs keep her in touch with Puerto Rico, her birthplace. She lived in Bayamon, where her father would wake Stubblefield and his four siblings every weekend at 8 a.m. with melodies that soothe them at work and play.

There was humanity in the call and response rhythms that told lyrical stories and drew people to the dance floor. Stubblefield tapped into those sentiments as a human resources specialist at Chase Manhattan, First Bank and Abbott Laboratories.

In 2003, her husband was reassigned to San Antonio. She volunteered at Stahl Elementary School – in which her daughter, Jensey Nahomy, participated – helping students with math, reading and Spanish. she started to play plena Christmas music CD before his third year Christmas break at Steubing Ranch. The songs erased the sadness of being away from her family. There was a problem – she hadn’t told Mrs. Holson, the principal.

Parents began to thank the primary educator for the morning music. She replied, “What music?

At a staff meeting, Ms Holson called Stubblefield. The assistant thought she was in trouble. Instead, the manager praised her for taking the initiative to play music in the morning.

However, the sounds of salsa ceased in 2008. His duties as sergeant were over, but it was not for long. By 2009 she was back by popular demand – parents wanted Stubblefield and his music.

Angela Townes, 40, said seeing Stubblefield is a joy. She swayed to the beat of Chucho Avellanet and La Tuna De Cayey as she crossed the street with her two children.

“It gives us a good start to the day,” Townes said. “Every day there’s a little movement across the street before I drop them off. She makes it fun.

In January 2013, her husband, James V. Stubblefield, passed away suddenly. During this difficult time, she realized how fleeting life can be. Two years later, she was still mourning her loss. Her daughter helped her overcome her grief.

“You can’t keep crying every day,” Stubblefield remembers, telling her daughter. “Dad wouldn’t want you to do this – you have to keep going.”

Ana Stubblefield helps children and parents cross the crosswalk at Steubing Ranch Elementary School on Tuesday, December 7, 2021. She is playing music from her native Puerto Rico to start the day at the North San Antonio school.  She also helps students in the science lab and the school garden.

Ana Stubblefield helps children and parents cross the crosswalk at Steubing Ranch Elementary School on Tuesday, December 7, 2021. She is playing music from her native Puerto Rico to start the day at the North San Antonio school. She also helps students in the science lab and the school garden.

Billy Calzada / Personal Photographer

Family and friends supported her when she had emergency surgery and a kidney was removed. Then, in 2015, a brother passed away. Six years later, her mother passed away.

“We persevere,” Stubblefield said. “I’m still here, with a smile. Life is very short. We need to do our best, help others, and be happy.

Deputy manager Lesha Dalton said Stubblefield’s character and attitude is important.

“You can’t tell by looking at her some of the adversity she has faced,” said Dalton. “No matter what is going on in her personal life, she gives off that energy.”

In May 2016, she convinced school officials to let her create a garden to encourage students’ interest in nutrition and science. She called it “The Garden of the Green Thumb”. The garden has become a community project. Parents, teachers and community members joined the students to grow vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Swiss chard and jalapeños.

“When you teach gardening to kids, they have more opportunities,” she said. “When they grow up, they could be farming or have a store. Someday I’ll see a scientist and say, “Oh, he’s my student. “

Manager Mario Guillen said Stubblefield got a $ 6,000 grant from Home Depot for the garden. Volunteers at the store helped replace weathered wood with a cinder block border.

“It’s just who she is,” Guillen said. “It’s part of her culture and everything she stands for.”

She keeps dozens of heartfelt written notes from students, parents and staff in a special keepsake box.

“Thank you for keeping our children safe! We appreciate you! And love your energy! the Cardenas family wrote. Leslie thanked her for running two science labs where students “learn so much from their time there”.

Stubblefield has fond memories of a mother who said her emotions improve every time they meet. She remembered the parent always saying, “You are my sunshine.”

When the lines cleared, she motioned for the remaining drivers to move on. Like an early ’60s Motown singer, she elegantly swept her arms towards school as the youngsters rushed to ring the morning bell. The patrols picked up the orange traffic cones. The crossing guard let the music play until the end of her shift until the last car left behind.

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