For 34 years, Dawn ‘Dawnie’ McPhillips has been making sure the students at Brighton State School arrive at school safely. Dawnie, 80, is a huge part of the Brighton school community and after walking the equivalent of 5000 laps around the school oval, she decided to hang up her stop sign in December.
The mother of three first started as a lollipop lady at the school when her youngest daughter was in Year 7, in 1985.
“I was nervous the first three weeks and then I began to love it,” Dawnie said.
“The children are what have kept me going. They say good morning to me and bring me little flowers picked out of their gardens.”
Brighton State School teacher, Jen Hewett, has known Dawn for more than 20 years and says her friendly smile at the crossing will be missed by all.
“She will always be our treasure of Brighton,” Jen said.
“She is the warm and wonderful smile that greets our students in the morning and that same warm smile wishes them well again in the afternoons.”
Dawnie always takes the time to make every child feel special.
“I like to learn each of their names, so I can say good morning to each of them,” she said.
Dawnie has seen hundreds of students walk into school on their first day of prep and then she has seen them leaving, on their last day of primary school. Many of these students have returned, years later, to walk their own children into school.
“It’s my life. It hasn’t really settled in yet, but I’m going to miss it,” Dawnie said.
On her last day at Brighton, students and families, past and present, honoured their favourite lollipop lady by covering the fence behind the school crossing with flowers.
“She has supported our students through happy and sad times and has that wonderful knack of saying the right thing at the right time,” Jen said.
“Dawnie is simply the beating heart of kindness that exemplifies our wonderful little school.”
In 2017, she was recognised for her long-time service to the community with a Lilley Australia Day Award.
Dawnie plans on staying involved at the school, by volunteering her time in classrooms and at the tuckshop.