School crossing guard and community member Dorothy Headd honored with street name

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Photo courtesy of Environmental Justice Evanston

Dorothy Headd (second from the right). The city of Evanston honored Headd by naming a street section after her.

Yonjoo Seo, Reporter

Dorothy Headd, an elementary school crossing guard, environmental justice advocate and devoted church member, will be celebrated with an honorary street designation on Prairie Avenue, City Council voted on Monday.

The section of Prairie Avenue between Grant Street and Colfax Street will be named “Miss Dorothy” Headd Way. The city’s street name designation program was established in 1996, and honors residents who have generously contributed to their communities. 

Headd only learned about the news once she listened to the voicemail from Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th), she said.

“I thought, ‘Recognition? Am I getting ready to die?’” Headd said, prompting laughter from those at the Monday meeting. “I’m just a down-to-earth person. I don’t try to be any more than I really am. I am so floored, believe me.” 

Revelle knew Headd from her environmental activism. Headd’s church members recognized her generous service. But Revelle said the parents who requested the street name designation knew Headd as the beloved crossing guard who took exceptional and loving care of their children on their way to and from school.

“I was really delighted when the parents approached me with a request to recognize (Headd) with an honorary street name sign,” Revelle said. “I just can’t think of a better way to honor (Headd) and her many contributions.”

During public comment, the parents of the elementary school students said Headd did more than just ensure their families’ safety as a crossing guard. Headd learned every child’s name and made them feel that they belonged at the school, one parent said.

Headd was also an integral member of Environmental Justice Evanston. She worked to mitigate the negative impacts a waste transfer station had in the community, Revelle said. Ald. Robin Rue Simmons (5th) said Headd brought new attention to environmental justice in the 5th Ward.

“(Headd) has protected us, and fought for us, and educated us and educated me,” Rue Simmons said. “And because of Miss Headd and some others, we have paid a lot closer attention to (environmental justice) so I want to say… thank you for all that you’ve done to provide positive, actionable, valuable input to the neighborhood.”

At the Monday council meeting, Headd thanked the community members for the street name designation and reflected on her experience as crossing guard. 

“(This job) is the best thing that could have ever happened to me because the kids were so giving,” Headd said. “They just want to be loved.”

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