On the first Friday of summer vacation, Aaron Martinez is working for his children, not just his own boys, but also the students he serves as a board member for Tyler ISD.
Storm clouds loom as Martinez and his sons, Landry, 8, and Rogers, 11, work to make repairs on the Little Free Library they built for Andy Woods Elementary School.
If they can’t get the door replaced quickly enough, the rain will ruin books donated by the community.
“I wanted them to have some ownership,” Martinez said of the project. “I tried to involve them as much as I could.”
Landry is going into third grade at Andy Woods, and Rogers will be moving on to Hubbard as a sixth-grader this fall, where they have also built a Little Free Library.
Martinez, board of trustee for Tyler ISD, is the grounds manager at Christus Trinity Mother Frances. When he moved his family to Tyler, he saw the district’s Hispanic community had little representation, even though the district has a Hispanic population of 46 percent.
In 2015 he won a seat on the board and hoped to help bridge that gap.
“I want to be able to provide some kind of guidance; that’s the biggest thing I can do,” he said. “That’s what my dad did for me. I hope to provide that not just for my kids, but anyone who might need that.”
Spending quality time with your own children can often be difficult, but now Martinez has responsibility for 18,000 children.
Providing affirmation for others is important to Martinez. He takes time to regularly write notes to teachers and students. He also treasures the time he spends with students and has become a regular presence on campuses across the district.
“Everyone at the campus level is always so excited to see you,” he said. “Everything else just falls away; all your problems are nonexistent when you’re on campus.”
Even before joining the school board, Martinez frequently was on campus, Woods Principal Georgeanna Jones said.
Being a father is one of the most important roles someone can play in a student’s life, and Martinez knows that so many of the children he serves don’t have a dad at home.
Jones said Martinez is humble in his service and leadership.
“Even when he helps prepare events, you would never know,” she said. “He’s just constantly involved, and he doesn’t like to get credit for it.”
Jones said Martinez volunteers for the school’s Watchdog Program as often as they will let him and he also encourages other fathers to get involved.
“So many kids don’t have (that support) at home,” she said. “Just to see those kids have a fatherly presence is so much deeper than what I can do in just the 10 or 15 minutes I get to spend with them.”
Though Martinez spends as much time as he can with students, his own boys never feel like they’re missing out.
“He’s awesome,” Rogers said. “On Saturdays he’ll watch football with me, and we’ll build stuff.”
The boys hope they’ll get to help their dad build many more Little Free Libraries for other campuses in the district. Martinez is up for the task, if anyone wants to donate money for the materials.