"This is part of my job," Bobbie Smith said, the yellow plastic peeler quickly slitting the skin of an orange while a six year old stood waiting patiently. "Whatever they ask me to do."


It's one of the jobs she's been doing since 1988, when Smith, 50, first became a proctor at Eucalyptus Elementary School. She's been a proctor in the Hesperia Unified School District even longer than that -- she started at Maple Elementary School in 1984.


"I had kids at Maple school," she said, handing back the orange and watching the first graders eat lunch Wednesday afternoon. "I followed my kids over [when they transferred] to keep an eye on them."


And she's been there ever since.


"They went on to [Hesperia] Junior High and I stayed here. I didn't want to deal with bigger kids, and I think they were embarrassed of me," she laughed.


But even if she was no longer keeping an eye on her own children, there have been plenty of other kids to watch over at lunchtimes and during recess. (Lunchtime is easier, incidentally: "Recess, they're not drawn together, they can run around.")


"Yesterday, a young man came here to substitute teach, and I was his proctor [years before]."


Over the years, "Miss Bobbie" has been a proctor to thousands of students. She'll go into stores and employees will greet her by name, even if she can't do the same.


"I can't remember their names, but I remember their faces," she said.


The kids have changed somewhat over the years, or at least the troublemakers have when they're caught in the act.


"Fifteen years ago, they would look at you and be nice," she said. "Now they talk back to you."


But most of the students she deals with are little trouble, even today: "Maybe 80 percent are good."


A proctor's job doesn't pay well, and if Smith had to do it over again, she says she might have become a teacher's aide instead.


"At the time, my husband didn't want me to take a full-time job. This was just to keep me busy and for shopping money," she said, tearing open the top of a ketchup packet for another student. "My husband passed away two years ago, so [now] it keeps me out of the house."


So it's been 20 years of peeling oranges, giving students permission to go to the classroom, moderating recess disputes and more for Smith.


"The principal, the assistant principal, the teachers, I've seen them come and go."


And she's likely to be there at least a few years more.


"I think if I quit, I would miss the kids."


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/HesperiaStar.