LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Gary Ingle

Position: School Counselor
School: Mendoza-Bush and Crismon Elementary Schools
School District: Mesa Public Schools
City, State: Mesa, AZ

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Gary Ingle was nominated anonymously.

Mr. Ingle is finishing his 45th year in education and is planning on retiring at the end of this year. He's an elementary school counselor in two schools, and he says that “I always make sure to remind kids to find their passion and use it in life. What a remarkable time it has been to share my life with so many generations. My reward comes from seeing kids I worked with leading successful lives.”

One of Mr. Ingle's first grade students recently lost his father. Mr. Ingle organized a collection to help provide the family with gifts, food, and other necessities because the student’s mom had been in the hospital for three weeks. One of the things that Mr. Ingle has enjoyed the most during his past 45 years in education is being able to come together at a special time of need to help students and families during a difficult time. For the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, he makes sure any family in need is given food, turkeys, hams, and more. He has worked with a local church to collect toys for kids who would not be getting presents for the holidays.

Mr. Ingle has always valued the diversity in his schools’ cultures to show students that each person has value and is special. To show his commitment to reach out to all students, he worked with teenagers who committed violent crimes in several programs from 1977 to 1985. He made powerful connections with those students because they knew he valued them for who they are. He learned that they will buy into what an adult says if they see that the adult truly cares.

In 1985, Mr. Ingle was hired as a Social Worker for a Christian Children's Home called Sunshine Acres. That experience showed him a new level of need in kids, which helped him when he became a school counselor. Mr. Ingle advocated for kids to never be turned away due to a lack of funds. He worked with Mesa Schools to start a school program, which resulted in him being promoted to Director of the Home in 1987. He developed the school program to keep kids in school who were at risk of dropping out. Mr. Ingle hired teachers and other staff for the program. Some students were able to effectively transition back into the Mesa schools to get their diplomas there. He advocated for kids to be able to continue living in the Home after high school so they could have the support they would need to complete a college degree. After leaving for another position, he was asked to be a Board Member of the Home due to his effective work there.

In 2001 after 16 years at Sunshine Acres, Mr. Ingle was contacted by the Director of Guidance at the Mesa school district about becoming a school counselor. He has continued working at two schools with over 1,000 students in his caseload. He has sought to love each student where they are, and to be a positive role model in their lives. When he retires, he will miss the kids, but many will continue to seek him out to update him on their successes, as they are now. Over and over, his former students say that the greatest lessons they learned from him were about dealing with diversity, keeping calm, controlling their behavior, and taking the chance to help someone else.

In 2009, Mr. Ingle was received the Spirit Award from the City of Mesa, which was given by the Dr. Martin Luther King Council. It was a great encouragement for him to never stop telling the kids during his 40-50 monthly presentations that everyone has value and matters. One of Mr. Ingle's favorite things has been to walk a group of 25 students to the local senior citizen center to sing, make cards, and dance with the residents. Seeing the students’ hearts of compassion and kindness for the elderly has been so encouraging. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they have not been able to visit as often as before, but in the coming semester, the students will make cards again for the residents to let them know the students have not forgotten them.

"Over the past 45 years of working with students, Gary has left an indelible mark on their lives. Those 45 years have also left a mark on Gary’s life, too. He has been an effective role model in helping kids see how one person can make this world a better place!" said his nominator.

Comments (34)

Greg Frick Posted over a year ago

Gary, thank you for investing so much time in these young people! So many kids never have someone like you to listen to them and encourage them.

Michael Hershberger Posted over a year ago

As a life long best friend of mine, it is hard to put into words just what our friendship has meant to me. from the first day in kindergarten until now, it was apparent that we would always be best friends. He is the type of guy who will do anything for, not only his best friend, but anyone in need. I honestly do not know what my life would have been without him in my life, but luck to have it, I will never know. I do know he loves his extended family of school kids and they love him back. even after they have gradated, they still give him big hugs when they see them. I am sure I owe him my life in so many ways. He is always there to listen when I have a problem, no matter how small or large it is. we don't always see eye to eye, but our friendship is so strong, it doesn't matter. I'm sure God looked down on me all those years ago and said "Mike needs guidance in his life" so he sent me Gary. That is how I have made it thru all those years until now. He is truly a one-of-a-kind. I will take all those memories with me when I pass away. I will always love and cherish all the time we are together. God bless him always.

Yanira Raabe Posted over a year ago

Mr. Ingle has been such a huge source of support for my children. When my daughter severely broke her leg and was in the hospital for a month he came to visit her. He always made sure to check in with her to see how she was feeling once she returned to school. He has also supported her through some personal struggles she was having at the school. She always knew he was there for her whenever she needed to talk about her feelings. My other children also enjoy seeing Mr. Ingle at school and they too know he is there whenever they need emotional support. We are so lucky to have had Mr. Ingle be a part of our lives.

Lucy Raabe Posted over a year ago

Mr. Ingle has been working with me at school for 3 years now. He even came to come visit me at the hospital. He is a really nice guy. He takes his time to talk with me. He should get this award because he helps people talk about their feelings and helps them when they are having a hard time.

David Clark Posted over a year ago

I’ve known Gary for over 30 years. He is most deserving of this award. Whenever I see him at a softball tournament he always has a story about a child in need and how he is helping them. It is his passion in life!

Elaine Torres Posted over a year ago

Mr. Ingle has a genuine soul that is rare to see. He is constantly putting other students, families, and coworkers before himself. No matter the situation, you can always count on Mr. Ingle to be there with his support. I cannot imagine the number of lives he has touched over the years and I am sure that each one can remember his name. It is an honor working with Mr. Ingle, and I am proud to consider him a great friend.

Felice Davis Posted over a year ago

Gary is a kind and selfless soul. He spends his days connecting with students, families and coworkers to make sure each person he interacts with knows that he deeply cares for them. He offers the help they need or just a listening ear. As I reflect back on what Gary has accomplished in his life, it is absolutely astounding to think of the number of lives he has touched. He truly has made such a huge difference in the communities he has served. I consider it an honor to have worked with him.

Katherine Stevens Posted over a year ago

Gary and I go way back. I first met Gary when I worked at Mendoza Elementary School. Presently, Gary works for both Mendoza and Bush Elementary. As a teacher, I truly appreciate the kindness, support, and lessons that Gary gives the children. The time he spends with small groups and individuals are invaluable. He approaches each child with sincerity and respect. For us teachers, he's become a great support in the classroom. With the amount of children and classroom levels we have in our room, Gary has become a good resource for those children who need a little more adult one-on-one attention. Thank you for your support, Gary!

Dino Recla Posted over a year ago

I've worked with Gary for the last 17 years to present, in school counseling. Gary has a heart of gold and gives his all to students, families and staff. Gary is great!

Tony Fightmaster Posted over a year ago

Gary is a warm, gentle, giant of a man with a BIG Heart for people. Just today I saw one of his former students give him a hug at a local restaurant. She recognized him and initiated the conversation. I realize that this kind of thing probably happens quite often to my old college buddy that I met over 46 year ago on a collegiate baseball field. I admired Gary when we were students and played intercollegiate baseball together. But I had no idea his adult life would be invested into positively impacting and changing the lives of young people for over 45 years! I'm so proud of my ole' college friend! What I saw today was the result of decades of truly serving and loving young people!

Elise Bernthal Posted over a year ago

Gary is a kind man through and through. He is all about the kids here at Barbara Bush Elementary. Gary goes above and beyond to talk to each student who needs or wants to talk. Gary is also incredibly kind and generous with the staff. Gary's Christ-like love is clear in everything he does. He puts himself second to his students and his neighbors. I truly feel humbled to know him. Thank you for all that you do and that you are, Gary.

Pastor Gary Tucker Posted over a year ago

What a truly remarkable blessing, that Gary is being nominated for this award. In book he has already won the prize. I met Gary and his wife, Debbie, at church in 1985. Not long after he was hired at Sunshine Acres Children’s Home as a social worker. It was very evident early on that he had a passion for hurting children and youth. Our lives have not intersected much over the past 29 years, only seeing each other occasionally. But, one thing has remained constant- Gary’s faith in God and his love for children. Whether or not he is selected as the recipient of the award, he is in my hall of fame. Sincerely, Pastor Gary Tucker

Heather Price Posted over a year ago

I have known Mr. Ingle for many years and his dedication to the students and families he serves is inspiring. Mr. Ingle truly cares for our families here at Mendoza and the students know that they can stop him and talk to him about anything on their minds. I have worked side by side with Mr. Ingle doing our Christmas Angel program for the last couple years and that experience will remain one of my favorites. There are so many things that you can say to describe him but by far the best word would be genuine. Mr. Ingle will be missed here on campus after his retirement.

Julie Wright Posted over a year ago

I was so excited to hear that Gary was nominated for this award. I have known Gary 41 years. Anywhere Gary goes he is constantly trying to find out what he can do for other. Growing up I witnessed many times Gary giving up personal time to help the children at Sunshine Acres and the schools he was working at. If they needed a question answered he would listen and get that question answered. If they needed clothing or a bed to sleep in, he would go out until he found what was needed. It is amazing the number of children Gary has helped! He treats all children like they are his grandchildren.

Melanie Prestson Posted over a year ago

I have personally known Mr. Ingle for 16 years. Mr. Ingle has always been a dedicated counselor for many students and staff members throughout our community. It has truly been a privilege to work beside someone who is so passionate about his job and every student that he has worked with. Mr. Ingle has truly loved each child that has walked through his door and has focused to be a positive role model in their lives. Mr. Ingle is someone who is so passionate, a consistent hard worker, and a helpful co-worker. Mr. Ingle and I have worked together for many years with our after-school programs here at Mendoza. Just this year he was able to collect enough food donations to feed 80 of our families during the holiday session. In the past we have had the opportunity to work together with a great group of students that we called “Trendsetters”. Some of the actives we have done with the students in the after-school programs are; cleaning up the campus, taking our recycle bins out, walking to the local retirement center to sing, tell jokes and make cards for the residents. I would personally like to thank Mr. Ingle for his profound gratitude, uplifting words, support, guidance, encouragement, and heartwarming advice he has shared over the past many years. To say Mr. Ingle will be missed is an understatement.

Tim Garner Posted over a year ago

Seeing the scope of Gary's success, and the love he has spread for 45 years I can say that he exhibited all of these wonderful characteristics way back at Olivet Nazarene University (class of 1976). I pray he will have a blessed retirement.

Janet Cox Posted over a year ago

KABOOM! I can't think of a finer man for this nomination! He is one of the kindest people I know. I am honored to work with him at Barbara Bush. He honestly loves and cares about every person in our world. He spends his days finding ways to help others shine, find success, set goals, and move forward with a smile. He radiates goodness while working with children as he models and teaches them how to problem solve and create friendships with everyone we meet. I admire him so! He has blessed my life as a teacher and friend, as well.

Kimberly Koranda Posted over a year ago

I have great respect and admiration for Gary, whom I have known since Olivet Nazarene College, Class of 1976. Throughout his life Gary has been compassionate and willing to assist others to achieve new levels of success. Gary loves people and he is a wonderful person to children and adults.

Diane Hartzler Posted over a year ago

I met Gary when he came to work at Barbara Bush Elementary about 3 years ago. Gary gets along with everyone he meets. The students love him. I have seen kids ask him to eat lunch with them and he does. If for some reason he is not at our school they are bummed that they cannot speak to him. When they speak to him, he helps them to relax and relates what they are going though in ways the students understand. He is always ready to give them a hug. I have seen students with behavior issues speak to him and afterwards, they are calm and ready to focus back in class. He even helped me when my granddaughter was struggling to find her way in 5th grade, and the home she shared with her mother burned down and forced them out the last day of school in 2021. Gary reached out to us. We were truly grateful. Gary is an amazing person and an asset that will be truly missed upon his well-earned retirement. He is an asset to the community and the school system. He is always willing to lend a hand whenever needed. He is quite a gentleman and a gentle soul. He is a very unforgettable person and has been a pleasure to get to know these past few years. A person I am happy to call my friend and coworker. Thank you Gary for all your kindness and caring. It has been a pleasure to get to know you! I will miss you my friend.

Michael Garcia Posted over a year ago

Mr. Ingle has been a dedicated counselor for Mesa Public schools for many years! He is well respected by his peers and the MPS community.

Robin Treat Posted over a year ago

I have worked with Gary for over 15 years. I am an elementary teacher and have been teaching for 33 years. I have worked with many counselors over the years and I can honestly say that Gary is one of the best. Gary is honest and caring, and our students know it. If there is an issue on campus both parents and students will ask to speak with Gary. At our most recent conferences, two parents specifically asked for Gary to pull their child out of class and spend some time talking with them. One parent said their child "just feels better knowing Mr. Ingle is on campus." Gary has a variety of resources at his fingertips which he utilizes to help support students and their families. I was absolutely thrilled when I saw that Gary Ingle was nominated for the LifeChanger of the year award. I can think of no one that is more deserving. Robin Treat Mendoza Elementary Mesa Public Schools

Paul Posted over a year ago

It’s been a joy to work with Gary at Mendoza Elementary school. Gary is a very helpful person to the kids and the staff. He is thoughtful and he is kind to everyone around campus. He is always available for the kids and any staff member that needs to talk. He has had a positive impact on our campus. Thanks for all you do for Mendoza!

Nick Bruno Posted over a year ago

I have known Mr. Ingle for about 16 years now. I had become a regular in the counselors office for causing trouble. I had adhd and some anger issues as a kid and from what my mom told me almost got expelled a couple of times. I believe Mr. Ingles help is the reason I made it through elementary school. I learned how to handle my anger and avert my energy towards my studying during my visits. I still use his lessons in my everyday life and am passing the knowledge down to my niece. He’s a supporting, loving person and I am so blessed to be able to call him a friend.

Nick Bruno Posted over a year ago

I have known Mr. Ingle for what feels like my entire life. We first met 16 years ago when I was in the first grade becoming a regular in the counselors office, to now as a 24 year old touring musician. I believe Mr. Ingle is the reason I made it through my first 6 years of schooling. His guidance on how to handle my anger and frustration through breathing and saying to myself “be, cool”, has been my saving grace since the first grade. I use everything you taught me in my everyday life and am now passing on your influence to my niece who I see as my mini me. What I learned in my first 6 years of schooling from Mr. Ingle had an everlasting affect on how I handle and present myself. I am forever blessed to be able to now call you a friend and for your kindness, guidance and knowledge.

Kathy paul Posted over a year ago

Simply amazing. Glad to call him my friend. I know he will continue to help change luves.

Cathy Thornton Posted over a year ago

I have known Gary for 18 years both personally and professionally. During this time, we rarely have a conversation in which his concern and passion for his students and staff does not come up. He truly has a heart for helping students in any way he can. He seeks donations from the community to meet their physical needs and if he cannot meet a student's need through that avenue he reaches into his own pocket. He truly has a counselor's heart!!

Veronica Yanez Posted over a year ago

Gary is such a genuinely caring, kind person! His calm, patient demeanor makes him easy to approach and talk to for our students and staff. His love for everyone is always evident, and he does his best to help every chance he gets. His work with the Trendsetters program has helped foster selflessness and concern for others in the students who participate. Gary is a good example to everyone on our campus, leading the way by such a great person. He is honest, compassionate, considerate, and giving. I consider myself blessed to know him first as a co-worker and later as a friend.

Heather Marsh Posted over a year ago

Gary, We are so lucky to have you as our school counselor! You have helped so many students, parents & staff members with your wisdom, advice & support. I can’t think of anyone better to recognize for this award. You truly are a life changer.

Kamie Gaevel Posted over a year ago

Gary your dedication to our children, our future, is beyond comparison. I appreciate all the support you give to our staff and our students. Your kindness and positivity spreads throughout our school and community. It wouldn't be the same without you. Thanks for all you do for us.

Crystal Reynolds Posted over a year ago

Gary you truly are an inspiration. The amount of love and joy you put into everything you do is nothing less than amazing. I have worked with you for 8 years now and never once has that smile left your face. You are a blessing and I am grateful I have met you.

Danielle Howze Posted over a year ago

I have known Gary Ingle for 2 years. Throughout these years I have seen Mr. Ingle help students in every way possible. My 6th grade students however, have known him for much longer, some, for their entire school career. Here are some things my students say about Mr. Ingle: "Mr. Ingle is a thoughtful person and he is kind to everyone around campus." "Mr. Ingle is one of the greatest counselors ever." "Mr. Ingle helped me to get over my anger issues when I was younger." "Mr. Ingle always helps us to get through family and friend issues we may be having." "Mr. Ingle is nice, kind, sweet, caring, and there for us." "Mr. Ingle takes the time out of his day to come and teach us SEL lessons and about future careers." "Mr. Ingle allows us to come and eat lunch with him whenever he is not on lunh duty. I really like this time with him." The most resounding answers I got when asking my students for input was "Thank you, Mr. Ingle." and "He is extremely deserving of this award."

Carolyn Darst Posted over a year ago

Gary is always available for the kids. He listens and cares for them. And even during the pandemic, he's given hugs. His passion for our kids shows in all that he does. Thank you, Gary!

Jaime Clemens Posted over a year ago

Gary is one of the people in your life who will change your life. He inspires everyone around him daily. He has done so much for children and families is his lifetime. He is the poster child for the award. I admire him so much and appreciate the man he is. He lifts up everyone!!! Words could never thank him enough for all his compassion in this life for others. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being you Gary.

Bridget Biggs Posted over a year ago

Gary is a wonderful counselor, friend, and mentor. He has encouraged me to pursue my dream of being a counselor and following in his steps. I have enjoyed working with him for the past 7 years and will miss his kindness, support, and hugs.