This November, the OC METRO celebrated its 23rd annual "Hot 25" issue with a special reception honoring Orange County's top movers and shakers of 2012. Receiving a special honor at this year's gala were the educators of the Tiger Woods Learning Center. Peering out from a page in the event program were familiar faces, including teachers, mentors, administrators, previous students, board members and Tiger Woods -- pretty much anyone who has made an impact on a child at the Learning Center.
Headlines read in big, bold letters, "The Waltos Group Quiet Achiever Award." This 2012, the educators of the Tiger Woods Foundation are front and center as the sixth recipient to achieve such a celebrated honor in Orange County.
The Quiet Achiever Award was established back in 2006.
"The idea was a combination effort between me and Steve Churm, CEO of OC METRO Magazine," said Bob Waltos, managing partner of Northwestern Mutual in Newport Beach, Calif. "There are so many people in the community that make a difference but don't have a profile. Steve and I thought that it would be great to recognize those people and to focus our energies to those charities that people may not be aware of -- to expose good deeds."
Past recipients include Dale Dykema, Jack Shaw, Paul Monteko, Joe Ames, Artyn and Max Gardner, and Hank Adler.
"For many years, Northwestern Mutual has been known as the 'Quiet Company,' and we took our lead from that to create a special recognition award honoring an individual in our community, whose quiet and sincere efforts have enhanced the lives of people here," explained Waltos.
This year, the educators of the Tiger Woods Foundation fit that bill. The 2012 Quiet Achiever Award recognizes the TWF educators for their unheralded work for children in the Orange County community and beyond.
"The work that the educators at the Learning Center have accomplished in the last six years has had a tremendous impact on the county," Waltos said . "It has impacted over 90,000 students and continues to expand. Educators continue to work selflessly to help thousands of students achieve more than they ever dreamed."
Typically awarded to only one individual in the community, The Waltos Group made a special exception in 2012.
Interestingly, the educators of the Foundation were not nominated as a pool of people. Originally, four different people from the Tiger Woods Foundation education group were nominated: Kathy Bihr, Gyla Bell, Sandra Barry and Karina Hamilton.
"That was wild," Waltos said. "It was probably the first and only time this will ever happen. Everyone thought so highly of the education system at the Learning Center that we decided to award the Quiet Achiever to the entire education process of the Learning Center."
What makes the Tiger Woods Learning Center so special and different?
"It focuses on STEM education," Waltos said. "It's one of the leaders in this thought process. It gives virtually all children opportunity. It gives classrooms opportunities, and it helps increase the skill sets of educators everywhere."
Not only that, The Waltos Group commends the Foundation for its work in helping kids successfully achieve a higher education.
"It's not just about helping students go to college. It's also about helping to prepare them as seniors to be ready to go to college, about acclimating them to the college environment and providing them the ability to thrive, personally, financially and emotionally," Waltos continued.
Outside of the Quiet Achiever Award, The Waltos Group is deeply involved with TWF and the TWLC.
"For the past six to seven years, we have been working closely with TWF to continue to help them grow and build. Their values are really in line with ours. The last couple of years, TWF has been partnering with us for events to raise money for the Earl Woods Scholarship Program, most recently the World Challenge event at Sherwood."
A TWF board member, Bob Waltos attributes his original involvement to one of his financial advisors, Paul Glowienke, who has been a longtime mentor and volunteer at the TWLC.
Then Waltos proudly said, "It's great to see more individuals at Northwestern Mutual getting involved and becoming mentors as well."
Waltos ended his interview with: "Personally, I feel very proud to be associated with the Learning Center and the TWF. I really appreciate their values, what they aspire to do, what they do for the kids and the impact they have on the Southern California education system. I love the quality of their board members for being so engaged. I excitedly share my name with the Tiger Woods Foundation and Learning Center."