Anthony Harmon has become a local fixture on the corner of Valley View and Antrim Roads in Edina. There, he faithfully mans his post, directing traffic and guiding Valley View Middle School and Edina High School students safely across the street during the busiest times of the day.
“I enjoy doing my job. I give 110 percent to what I do,” says Harmon, a former bodyguard and father of three. “I try to help out as much as I can.”
Harmon first applied to Valley View Middle School 13 years ago as a security guard. He noticed there was a definite need for a crossing guard outside the school. So he promoted himself to work earlier hours, during inclement weather and traffic headaches. In other words, he took on the job himself. And the students noticed.
“Every student at Edina High School knows how important Tony is to our daily drives,” says 11th-grader Henry Hunt. “Without him, everybody would be at least 10 minutes late and there would be lots of accidents.”
“There’s just something about Tony,” adds Valley View ninth-grader Jack Ebner. “Everybody wants to behave when he’s around.”
“He keeps everyone accountable,” adds Jack’s mom, Susan. “Nobody’s going to mess with Tony. He just holds everyone to a higher level and the kids rise to that level.”
But at one point, some parents didn’t feel the same way. Because nothing was written into the city code, a dissenting voice called the Edina Police Department and questioned Harmon’s training.
“We actually had to rewrite the code, allowing civilians to be able to act as crossing guards if they’ve had proper training,” says Police Lt. Jeff Elasky. “Tony is such a huge help to us. His work allows us to be out in the community, responding to emergencies, but also know that these kids are safe.”
When Harmon isn’t directing traffic outside the school, he’s inside, keeping the hallways under control. He starts his day at 7 a.m. as a crossing guard. From there, he does desk duty, welcoming and greeting guests. The rest of the morning is spent walking the halls, touring the school and checking the doors. Then he heads to the cafeteria to manage all four lunch periods. Harmon rounds out his day back at the busy intersection, controlling the traffic and helping students get safely home.
“I don’t have a job description,” Harmon chuckles. “You name it, I do it. I just try to do whatever it takes to help the school run smoothly.”
In 2013, Harmon was one of six people honored at a leadership breakfast for his impact on the Edina community. Connecting with Kids, a community-based initiative, brings members together to raise healthy kids and develop a healthier Edina. Harmon was recognized for the personal connections he forms with students.
“I’m almost like a big brother to the students,” Harmon chuckles. “I tell them, ‘When you leave the middle school, I’ll still keep an eye on you at the high school.’ Until they graduate, I’m constantly connecting with them.”
Harmon is a big brother who demands respect. “I don’t take any nonsense. I teach them to respect me and they get my respect in return.”
This Chicago transplant often uses humor to keep impatient drivers calm while students cross the street.
“Some people might call it a dance,” he says. “I have to do things to get drivers’ attention out there. I have to keep traffic flowing.”
“Whether it’s dancing or pointing, he’s out there every day,” adds Ebner.