The Palm Beach County School District has chosen Hernan Avila of Wellington High School for its 2021 School-Related Employee of the Year award.
The award recognizes essential support personnel who provide outstanding contributions to the students, schools and communities, as well as invaluable support in keeping the school district running smoothly.
School-related employees include paraprofessionals, secretaries, food service staff, custodians, bus drivers, mechanics and office managers.
Superintendent Dr. Donald E. Fennoy II noted that the work of all these professional school-related employees, and especially those honored for the award, have helped to keep schools on course during these unprecedented times.
“In a school year like no other, our nominees have turned challenges into opportunities,” Fennoy said. “They have been nimble, and they worked harder and smarter than ever before.”
At a live ceremony on Tuesday, March 30, Avila was selected from a list of finalists that also included Candy Bartolon from Congress Middle School, Jeffrey Sears from Rosenwald Elementary School and Joy Cabot from Osceola Creek Middle School.
Avila’s name and recommendation will now be entered as the district’s nominee for the Florida School-Related Employee of the Year competition.
Avila, or “Coach H” as he is known by everyone on campus, was nominated by the entire team at Wellington High School. Formerly a behavior intervention associate, he was recently promoted to a role overseeing the school’s computers and systems.
Avila was prepared when distance learning was implemented, as he is known for not letting his job description limit his contributions when tasks need to be accomplished. Avila had already begun work on Chromebook distribution and helped the school prepare for virtual events such as new student orientation.
“The word ‘no’ is not in his vocabulary,” Assistant Principal Elizabeth Calvente-Torres said. “Avila can be seen stepping in to de-escalate student issues, providing support whenever needed, and providing a rapport with faculty and students alike.”
Sometimes offering quality time or a meaningful word as a caring adult can help a student greatly.
“Coach H has a sixth sense when it comes to what a student needs to hear,” counselor Julia Saye said. “He finds innovative ways to meet students where they are.”
While accepting his award, Avila recalled the words of a Wellington High School assistant principal who passed away this school year. “He left me a brief message telling me, ‘You only do this once. You have to maximize the opportunities.’ So, I live by that every day,” Avila said.