Share this article

Open for business
Find out the latest updates from local businesses as our region reopens.
print logo

Schoolchildren have counted on 'Miss Jane' for 60 years

They call her Miss Jane, and she has quite a following. For 60 years, Jane L. Ervin has safely guided thousands of children across the street to and from school.
"She is such a sweet lady. She always greets us in the morning and in the afternoon," said Shahanna Calhoun, mother of 5-year-old Robert, a kindergartner at Martin Luther King Multicultural Institute School 39.
Ervin has been posted at the corner of Pershing Avenue and High Street near School 39 for the past several years.
The 86-year-old great-grandmother was honored Tuesday by Mayor Byron W. Brown at City Hall for her service. News got back to her corner very quickly.
"Congratulations, Ms. Ervin," shouted 10-year-old Antone Carthon as he was leaving school Tuesday afternoon.
The fourth-grader was "very happy" for Ervin, whom he has known since his first day of school. Antone does not walk to school anymore, but the impression Ervin made on him was a lasting one.
"She's a nice lady. I knew her when I was in kindergarten, and she used to help me across the street," Antone said.
In addition to loving her job, Ervin has made a major difference in the lives of children along her route.
For years, she has collected children's clothing and keeps the items in the trunk of her car. She takes them with her to her post and observes what clothing some of the kids might need. She then asks the family if it is OK for her to give an item to the child.
For a long time, she held onto her own children's outgrown clothing and gave that away, too.
"I remember one winter, one little boy was cold and another said to him, 'Don't worry. She'll bring you a coat. She brought me mine,'?" Ervin said.
Brenda Spencer, a volunteer foster grandparent at School 39, was amazed to hear how long Ervin had been working as a crossing guard.
"That's a blessing, to have 60 years of service," Spencer said.
Ervin began her career at the same time her son, William, began school. He was at School 39, and she was posted at School 2 on Upper Terrace in downtown Buffalo.
"I thought it was a good job for me," she said. "I figured that when he went to school, I would be going to work, and when he got home, I would be home."
After School 2 closed, Ervin spent the next 48 years at School 8 Follow Through Magnet/Urban Learning Laboratory School at Masten Avenue and East Utica Street, she said.
She was the crossing guard for her daughter, Connie.
School 8 closed in 2004, and that's when she went to School 39.
Ervin said she has no immediate plans for retirement.
"I continued because I love it," said Ervin.
"I still see quite a few of the ones I used to cross years ago. Now I cross their children's children," she said. "My children call me Miss Jane."
Even though she's 86 years old, the weather has never bothered her because she dresses accordingly. And regardless of the season, she can be counted on to wear her gloves.
"In the summer, I wear white gloves and in the winter I wear the green gloves to match our raincoats," she said.
Her attention to detail is "another thing that's amazing about her," said Brown, who heard about Ervin's service from some of her co-workers.
"She maintains her uniform to a T," he said. "She is impeccable."