Roy Sandoval says Payson chose him instead of him making any actual choice to make it his home.
Sandoval was an eighth-grade student in 1972 when his parents brought him to Payson. They have since moved on, but he has put down some deep roots.
He graduated from Payson High, then came back to the school to teach in 1985. Sandoval taught high school biology, physical and life sciences. He also coached just about everything. He coached wrestling, baseball, football and even girls softball.
Sandoval then entered the ranks of the school administration. He was curriculum director for six years, which included serving as vocational education director for the district, Career Ladder director and any other duties as assigned.
Then one night, the superintendent called him at home and said the Payson Elementary principal, John Ketchem, was retiring and needed to leave early. Sandoval was then asked to become the school's principal: the next morning. That was in 1998 and he has been at the head of Payson Elementary since.
He earned his education degree from Northern Arizona University and also was awarded a master's degree in leadership and administration in 1994. Sandoval has both a principal's and a superintendent's certificate.
The biggest challenge he has faced as principal is "meeting all the needs in light of all the factors that conflict with the needs and overcoming bureaucracy."
As for the rewards, he said, "You're vested with the authority and resources to truly assist many people in need."
Sandoval took on a new career of sorts this year. He was hand-picked by the founder of Fiddlers' Festival to take over as its director.
"Vertilee (Floyd, the festival's founder) came to my office in December and told me she was going to have heart surgery, but did not expect to make it. She said, 'I want you to take the Fiddlers' Festival.' And I said, 'Get real.' She said no, she was going to set things up and wanted me to take it," Sandoval said.
Floyd was right about the outcome of her surgery; she died in March.
He said everything is pretty well set now for this year's Old Time Fiddlers' Festival.
"She left a very significant group of individuals who are highly competent," Sandoval said.
He is adding a couple of things to draw more local residents to the activities. He has arranged for the bluegrass band, Crucial Country, to perform in concert and also hopes to have the square dance club give exhibitions during the day.
"This is a community event, it is the last one, along with the rodeo. It is family oriented and gives people a chance to show pride in the town. I would really like to see everyone come out and support it," Sandoval said.
The 32nd Annual Old Time Fiddlers' Contest is Sept. 28 and 29 at the Payson Event Center.
Name: Roy Sandoval
Employer: Payson Elementary School
Birthplace: Chula Vista, Calif.
Family: wife, Sylvia, and three children, Rebecca, 14, Jennifer, 12 and Ben, 10.
Personal motto: "He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it," Philippians 1:6
Inspiration: Christian faith
Greatest feat: Thus far successfully raising three children, emphasizing the "thus far."
My favorite hobby or leisure activity is ... to cycle and play guitar.
The three words that describe me best are ... sledge hammer subtle
I don't want to brag, but ... I serve on the governor's appointed committee to the State Board of Education advising on Career Ladder policy, and I have been its chairman.
The person in history I'd most like to meet is: Abraham Lincoln.
Luxury defined (also dream vacation spot): A month on the family ranch in Montana.
Why Payson? I think it chose me. I came with my parents and never left, but they did.