The decision to become a principal came to Tim Fruth in a most unusual way.
"I don't want to make this sound hokey," said the first year assistant principal at Rim Country Middle School, "but I had this vision one night. It was a dream.
"I sat right up and it's like, 'This is where you need to be and do.' Call it what you want, but I can see it to this day just as plain as can be."
He pauses for a moment and then says with a laugh, "Looking back, maybe it was a nightmare."
Middle school teachers and principals are a special breed. The students they teach are considered by many educators to be the toughest of any age group.
In fact, many RCMS teachers joke that they're all a little crazy to teach at the middle school level.
Fruth, who taught for 21 years at Payson High School before accepting the assistant principal position at RCMS says he fits right in.
"Anybody knows me knows I'm a little bit on the crazy side," he said with a laugh. But then he talks about how much he enjoys working with middle school-aged students. "I did my internship here at RCMS, and I'll tell you what, I really like it. It's a completely different environment.
"It's such an energetic environment and I'm an energetic person so I kind of feed off that energy.
Fruth, who is often mistaken for his younger brother, Tom a local high school football hero moved to Arizona from Ohio and graduated from Northern Arizona University. He's lived in Payson since 1980.
"I was debating between Prescott and Payson, and then this new teacher called in August and said he wasn't coming," he said. "School was starting in two weeks and they offered me the job. I've been here ever since."
Besides teaching business and computer classes at PHS, Fruth did some coaching and a lot of refereeing.
"I've done football, but mostly basketball," he said. "I've refereed all over the White Mountains. I've done high championship games at America West Arena."
Some of the skills he developed as a referee serve him well in his new position at RCMS, where he is responsible for attendance, discipline and athletics.
"You have to be firm but fair, and you have to be consistent," he said. "I love children, but at the same time they have to be accountable. The kids here have been great about it."
And you have to be flexible.
"The thing I've learned in my first year as an assistant principal is that what is true one day might not necessarily be (true) the next day," he said. "I've learned that every day is a different day guaranteed, and you go with the flow."
When he's not at RCMS, where, incidentally, his wife also works and one of his two children is a student, Fruth likes to jog and hike with his family. He also is very involved with his church and teaches a Sunday school class.
But his favorite extracurricular activity is working with a Christian rock band called Third Day.
"They're the hottest band in that genre," he said. "Their last three albums have gone gold.
"I run their message board and do some other Internet stuff with them.
"I'm very passionate about that."
Now in his third decade as an educator, Fruth says students have changed a lot from when he started teaching.
"The thing I've noticed is the sheer intelligence levels of young people, compared to 20 years ago," he said. "I think kids today, overall, their knowledge of anything is just amazing."
Looking back, he says he's really glad he chose education over a career in business.
"The rewards are just the greatest you can have," he said. "You watch someone just blossom into a young man or young lady, and that's pretty neat to see."
But maybe the greatest reward is that educators never stop learning.
"That's one of the good things," he said. "You learn right along with the students."
Name: Tim Fruth
Occupation: Assistant Principal, Rim Country Middle School
Birthplace: Marion, Indiana
Family: Wife Carolyn, Caitlin (14), Jordyn (8)
Personal motto: Stand for something or fall for anything.
Inspiration: My family. They inspire me to keep on keeping on through adversity.
Greatest feat: Getting my masters degree and completing my principal's certification program in two years while working two jobs, raising a family and maintaining my sanity.
Favorite hobby or leisure activity: Working with the band Third Day, hiking with my family, reading.
Three words that best describe me: passionate, caring, maybe we should get the third word off the school bathroom wall.
Person in history I'd most like to meet: Abe Lincoln, who is a distant relative.
Luxury defined: Being with my family at a resort where someone cleans up for me.
Dream vacation spot: Some place that has white sand, most likely in the Bahamas.
Why Payson: I have lived in Payson for 22 years and I love it here. It is a great community with great weather and it is close to cultural activities and the city where I can visit but escape back to a quiet life.