This year’s winner of the Crossing Guard of the Year in Tucson is an alumnus of the school he serves.

Raymundo Reyes works at Kellond Elementary School, where he attended third through fifth grades.

The Arizona chapter of AAA gives the award in Pima and Maricopa counties annually. Students, parents, and principals nominate crossing guards, and AAA sends observers to watch their work. The combination of the recommendations and observations are used to select a winner.

Download as MP3

Valerie Vinyard, AAA spokeswoman, said Reyes received glowing nominations from all categories of people. When AAA observed his work, his connection with Kellond showed in his conduct, she said.

“Ray was waving at people and greeting some by name. It was just really cool how personable he was, and how he really seemed to know the people crossing his streets every day.” Vinyard said.

Reyes requested to work at Kellond Elementary as soon as he heard there was a position, he said. Once there, he hunted down his old yearbooks to look at and show the kids.

He began volunteering with the school, and though he said the award was a “shock,” Principal Scott Hagerman said he was not surprised.

“There was a group of parents here that saw how he worked with the kids, and made it their mission to get him nominated,” Hagerman said.

“They see me as a big kid, as a friend,” Reyes said, and recalled a rainy week when a student brought him a hot cocoa.

“I love working with the kids. The kids are awesome.” Reyes said. “Putting a smile on their faces every day, it’s a great feeling.”

Reyes received a gift card, a plaque and a certificate as part of his award.