Surprise Squad honors dedicated Agawam teacher

The Hyundai Dealers Surprise Squad is back to kick-off the new year by honoring an outstanding educator in Agawam.
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 4:19 PM EST
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AGAWAM, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The Hyundai Dealers Surprise Squad is back to kick-off the new year by honoring an outstanding educator in Agawam.

Hundreds of students, teachers and administrators, town leaders, and family and friends of Sara Tryba packed the auditorium at the Roberta G. Doering School for one of our biggest and loudest surprises yet. When asked the question ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ some may say a singer, some a doctor or a lawyer, maybe even an astronaut.

However, for Tryba, her dream was to be a teacher and for the past 22 years, she has been living out that dream at the Roberta G. Doering School in Agawam, but what makes Tryba’s experience extra special is she gets to do it alongside her best friend of 35 years, Erica Shlosser. The two met in their third-grade classroom in Westfield and have been inseparable ever since. It was Shlosser who nominated Tryba for the Hyundai Dealers Surprise Squad, knowing her friend would never expect what was on the other side of the auditorium doors.

Tryba spotted her friend in the crowd when she first walked in, but had no idea she was the mastermind behind the whole surprise.

“Mrs. Tryba, Sara Tryba, has been my best friend for 35 years and she’s just a special amazing person and I really wanted to do something special for her…She’s so deserving of this. She’s an amazing educator, considerate, patient with her students. She even had former students want to come. She’s just so special to me and to everybody,” Shlosser explained.

It was clear from the crowd of students cheering her on just how much she means to them. Several of Tryba’s sixth grade homeroom students said:

“Mrs. Tryba is very talkative. She loves to talk to us and she is very nice and I love having her as my homeroom teacher.”

“She is always there when you need her and she always has your back. You never feel down.”

“She tries her hardest to make us happy and smile every day.”

Principal Tom Scnepp echoed their sentiments.

“The way that she can connect with the kids, they have a ton of fun, but they learn a lot and she is so deserving. It has been great to see how far she’s come along in the past 20 years,” Scnepp

It was the visible aand audible outpouring of support for Tryba that made the Hyundai Dealers dealers even more excited to give just a little something back to her for all she does for the school community with a surprise of $500 for her and $500 for anything that she wants to give back to the school.

“It’s wonderful that we are able to recognize her for what she does. She was happy and she loves what she is doing and her job is not easy, so I really appreciate the opportunity to get back into recognize her for everything she does every day,” said Gary Rome, president of Gary Rome Hyundai.

“...Overpowered by these young kids. They were definitely excited to have Sara come out. I don’t know how she did not hear them through the walls before she came in and know that something was going on. It was great to see how excited they were,” added Brian Houser, general manager of Balise Hyundai.

“Based on the emotions, no, I don’t think she expected it at all,” said Mike Paquette, general sales manager of Country Hyundai.

Front and center of the cheering crowd was Tryba’s husband, Todd, and mother, who were touched to see how many people came out for Sara.

“It’s fantastic. She deserves it and everybody loves her...I knew everybody would be here, but the kids are so loud. It’s unbelievable,” said Todd Tryba.

Agawam Mayor Bill Sapelli even joined in on the fun.

“This is great. You look at where we were the past couple of years and this is what it is all about having the kids in front of teachers and doing fun stuff like this. We have a great staff. Sara is so well deserving and she was so excited,” Sapelli explained.

However, Tryba said she never got into education for the recognition. Her passion for teaching came at a young age when she would help her brother with his math homework. The difference she was able to make in him is one she wanted to imprint on future generations.

“This is exactly where I’m supposed to be and what I’m supposed to do and I just want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to come in everyday with a smile on my face and put a smile on your face and have a lot of fun. There is a lot of learning that takes place, but there is also a lot of fun while we are learning,” Sara Tryba said.