Tyler Independent School District bus driver Paul Robinson made his way into the break room of the district’s transportation office with dozens of other drivers who had been told to gather for a staff meeting. He leaned against the wall and listened intently as a group of visitors carrying balloons, a framed certificate and a gift made their way to the middle of the room. He soon became aware there was in fact no staff meeting. They were all gathered there because of him.

Paul Robinson was one of eight outstanding staff members of the Tyler ISD surprised with the presentation of the Tyler ISD Foundation’s first-ever A Team Award on Monday. The A Team Award was created by the Tyler ISD Foundation to honor exceptional employees of the Tyler ISD who often do not receive accolades for their efforts. Recipients of the award are first nominated by their peers. A review committee reads the nominations and selects the finalists.

Recipients of the first-ever A Team Award are: Paul Robinson, Driver, Tyler ISD Transportation; Jan Thedford, Reading and Math Intervention Teacher, Birdwell Elementary School; Veronica Quiballo, Teacher, Plyler Alternative School; Wilbert Brice, In-School Suspension Aide, Peete Elementary School; Danice Lambert, Teacher’s Assistant, Boshears Center for Exceptional Programs; Vanessa Henderson, Associate Principal, John Tyler High School; Aimee Dennis, Assistant Principal for Instruction, Hogg Middle School; Sarah Jane Walker, Counselor, Bell Elementary School.

“The Tyler ISD Foundation created this award in recognition of all staff members who go above and beyond to provide Tyler students with a quality education,” said Tyler ISD Foundation Executive Director Maya Bethany. “The emphasis is on the traditional statement, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ In this case, it takes the efforts of wonderful employees from all Tyler ISD departments to provide students with exceptional learning opportunities.”

“We want all Tyler ISD employees to know we appreciate what they do for our community’s children and their educational success each and every day. The school district cannot thrive without them.”

Mr. Robinson shyly stepped forward after his nomination was read to his peers to accept his award. He humbly stated that he was honored to be recognized.

“This award is really for this entire group,” he said before the transportation department. “When we pick up those little angels in the mornings, come back and recoup, then head out to pick them up again, we do it out of love and because we care,” Robinson stated. “I really appreciate this, but like I said, I’m the one up here getting this award but it’s really for everybody.”

The presentation committee visited John Tyler High School where Associate Principal Vanessa Henderson helped them prepare to read the nomination announcement over the public address system. She did an all-call for the campus and asked for their attention. She had no inkling the award recipient for their campus was her until her name was announced at the very end.

“I was standing there listening and thinking, ‘Wow, this is really great. I wonder who it is?’,” she laughed in surprise. “I had no idea it was me!”

The Tyler ISD Foundation will present the A Team Award twice each school year. One presentation will be made during the fall semester, the second during the spring semester. Recipients will be invited to attend the foundation’s academic excellence recognition event A Night of Shining Stars each May.

One recipient of the A Team Award will be considered annually for the new Gary Mooring Excellence Award. The award created in 2014 is named in honor of former Tyler ISD Superintendent Gary Mooring. The award will honor a member of the A Team who shows outstanding commitment, dedication and passion for student achievement. The award finalist will be named during A Night of Shining Stars.