Tom Badillo wasn't reluctant to talk about his award from the University of Nevada, Reno for being an outstanding administrator, but he kept veering off on different topics.
He dwelled on his outstanding teachers, his committed administrative staff, supportive parents and wonderful students at Carson Middle School.
It is largely these groups that Badillo credits for getting him the award: Outstanding Kindergarten through 12th-grade School Administrator in Northern Nevada.
"I have a staff that any one would be proud to have, this truly was a team effort, truly" he said.
Badillo was selected from 12 Northern Nevada school districts.
The awards - outstanding administrator, outstanding teacher and outstanding counselor, each for kindergarten through 12th grade - were selected by officials at the UNR's College of Education.
UNR is hosting a formal awards ceremony on Thursday to mark American Education Week.
Days after Badillo's award was announced, letters of congratulations continue to arrive. Floor to ceiling posters hastily put together by students deck the walls, and plants and flowers line the back wall of his office.
English teacher Jessica Daniels rolled a lesson in alliteration into a blue congratulatory banner.
"Mr. Badillo is bold, beloved and brilliant," wrote one student.
"He's awesome and astonishing," wrote another
"I was more than surprised. I was stunned, when the lady from UNR called," he said. "It came right out of the blue. Truthfully, I had forgotten about it."
Badillo said he recalled a brief conversation about his nomination with Mary Pierczynski, Carson City School District's associate superintendent of human resources.
Pierczynski wrote an essay nominating Badillo.
Badillo is respected, a problem solver and a listener, she wrote.
"His school is safe, well supervised and student centered.... Tom Badillo is a hands-on administrator who never asks his teachers to do anything he is not willing to do himself."
Debbie Helseth, Badillo's secretary, was not surprised by the award.
"I think he's the best administrator in this district," she said. "He's fair but firm. He listens. He is incredible to work for. The best."
Where Badillo is willing to take personal credit is in his skill at hiring teachers.
"I recognize people who have the drive and determination to be good teachers," he said. "Now I am smart enough to recognize when I have a good person. I don't mess them up, but I encourage them to innovate. And if they fail they move on," he said.
Ironically, Badillo said if he could step back 15 years, he is unsure he would switch from English teacher to administrator.
"When you leave the classroom, you leave the best part of our profession behind," he said. "You never have the same quality of relationships."
But a second best is to pace the school's corridors daily, whether it's before or after school or during lunch.
"When you get to be an administrator there is always a reason to stay in your office - a conference, a meeting, paperwork," he said. "But when principals do that, they're not fulfilling their job."
Badillo's presence has paid off. When questioned, a dozen students said they had chatted with Badillo around school.
"He's an all-round guy who helps you in the hall if you need it," student Bradley Martin said.
"He make everyone at school feel comfortable," said Andrew Abbott. "He make you do pushups in the halls if you're late -about 20 pushups."