Joe Mettler was nomiated for the honor by the students.
"I enjoy my job very, very, much," said Mettler, fighting back tears, as he was surprised with the award at a school-wide assembly on Friday morning. "I have great kids!"
AAA Arizona began its search for the seventh annual award at the beginning of the school year. More than 100 nominations – including many handwritten letters and drawings from students – were submitted, describing why their crossing guard deserved the title. AAA traffic safety staff evaluated the nominations to select finalists before conducting an observation of each guard performing their duties.
"I'm going to retire doing this. It's wonderful and I got a great staff at both schools that support me, oustanding students at both schools that support me," said Mettler.
Mettler, who has been a crossing guard for five years, received $500 from AAA Arizona. Each school received $250.
"Crossing guards are an integral part of school safety," said Linda Gorman, director of communications and public affairs for AAA Arizona. "As an advocate for traffic safety, AAA applauds all guards for their tireless dedication, and for the difference they make in the communities they serve."
Recipients of AAA’s Crossing Guard of the Year award demonstrate the highest level of commitment, friendliness, professionalism and safety.
"When you think of a crossing guard, you may envision an individual who simply helps children cross from one side of the street to the other. However, when you think about Joe Mettler, you envision an individual who is vigilant about the safety of our students," said Rene Murphy, assistant principal at Hopi Elementary School. "We are proud that he has been recognized as AAA’s Crossing Guard of the Year."
"We are thrilled that Joe Mettler was recognized as the AAA Crossing Guard of the Year!" said Chad Caudle, principal of Ingleside Middle School. "Mr. Mettler’s intense focus on student safety and his joyful and welcoming demeanor make him the ideal recipient of this outstanding award."
As an advocate for traffic safety, AAA participates in annual crossing guard training, produces training materials for guards, and has donated more than 1,500 safety vests to crossing guards in Maricopa and Pima County.