Life Before RMS

By Amanda M.

Many teachers at RMS devote a lot of time and hard work to their teaching careers in order to help students learn. However, not everyone has always been a teacher. Some teachers have had other jobs in the past before they decided helping kids learn was the career for them. Richardson staff members share some of their past jobs and experiences before coming to teach at our school:

Chad Mabery – “After graduating from Michigan State University, I got my first job as a middle school teacher in Manhattan Beach.  However, I moved to California in the summer.  And, since I would not be getting my first paycheck for three months, I decided to apply for a job at almost every restaurant and mall store around the South Bay.  I received two job offers, The Gap and The Cheesecake Factory.  So my first job after getting a degree in Mathematics at MichiganState University was as a host at The Cheesecake Factory on Redondo Beach.”

Joelle Conner-“The only job, other than teaching, that I have had is when I was fifteen. I worked in a coffee shop that my friend’s parent owned.   My job was to get drinks and clear tables.  One day I found an envelope on the seat of a booth, and inside the envelope was fifteen one hundred dollar bills.  I gave the money to the owner of the coffee shop hoping the money would be returned to its owner.  I found out many years later that the owner kept the money and lied when the customer called and asked for it.”


Julie Yu – “It was never a dull moment working at a bank in Studio City. When we were not busy catching customer impersonators and fraudulent activities, we had the opportunity to meet and help various celebrity clients such as Kramer from Seinfeld and Chuck Norris, along with many others. On an average day, I interacted with 175 -200 customers. Now I get to help 157, each with their individual personalities and needs.”

Sara Pearlman-“My first job was as a camp counselor–at Camp Scherman, in the San Jacinto Mountains, near Idyllwild. I was seventeen and–oddly enough–delighted to spend an entire summer away from civilization, even though it meant not seeing my friends and family for eight weeks.”

Elaine Richmond-“I worked in a Santa Monica library branch, at the  Beverly Hills Library and then in U.C.L.A.  libraries for thirteen years. I already had a teaching credential, but back then there were no teaching jobs to be had….supply and demand. There too many teachers and not enough jobs. I loved the smell of new books; the feel of the new pages. Did you know each and every book has it each and individual smell? People who love books will know what I am speaking about.  I was in charge of new books and gifts given to U.C.L. A. While I was processing gift books, I saw a bump on the spine of an Alice in Wonderland

hardcover book. So I propped open the spine from the bottom …you book lovers will know what I mean.  I discovered a 14 carot gold baby ring that had been shoved up into the spine. Gifts are anonymous and to this day I guard this ring….some child, mom, dad, grandma or grandpa put this ring in the book for some reason. Childhood memories.”


Andrew Kissner – “I worked in corporate sales.  During one of my earliest sales jobs, I was lucky to attend a motivational seminar and got to meet and talk to; Coach John Wooden (UCLA winning-est coach in NCAA history) , Kareem Abdul Jabar (former LA Laker, NBA Champion, and NBA MVP), Walter Payton (Former Chicago Bears, Superbowl Champion, leading rusher in the NFL, NFL MVP Player, and Pro Bowl Player.), Irvin “Magic” Johnson (former LA Laker, NBA Champion, and NBA MVP), Jeff Singletary (former Chicago Bears, Superbowl Champion, Pro Bowl MVP Player) and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.  I will always remember that I had to crane my neck up to look Kareem Abdul Jabar.  He was soooo tall to me.”

Joe Petito-“One of the most interesting jobs I ever had was blowing up stuff using jet-powered airplanes. A bunch of other guys and me would collect up a bunch of junk like backpacks and water and radios, get on a CH-53 Sikorski helicopter and fly out to a little island off the West coast of Okinawa with a small hill on it. We would hike to the top of the hill, get on the radio and call up some airplanes, and then when I could see them overhead (and I was pretty sure they could see me) I’d tell them to drop their explosive stuff where I told them, usually on old broken-up trucks and tanks and junk. It was pretty loud and would blow my hair back. That’s why I don’t hear very well and have no hair.


Another interesting job was being a cook for Marie Calendar’s when I was in college in Irvine, but I got fired because I went backpacking in Fresno for a week.  I called in to work ten minutes before my shift as a cook saying I couldn’t show up for work. Because another cook and two busboys didn’t show either, they fired the lot of us.”

Michael Fujii-“The first job I ever had was working in a book binding factory.  It was a summer job when I was in high school.  However, the most interesting job I ever had was working at a summer camp in Torrance!  Getting to work with a lot of awesome kids is what made me want to become a teacher.  Some of those kids are now at RMS!  It’s funny to remember some of our students from when they were going into kindergarten or first grade.”

Mandy Malpede – “My first job was at a shop called Flower Plaza where I sold flowers to people. Not very interesting. How about my least favorite job? It was at a German Shepherd breeding kennel. I had to get there at 6am every morning and deal with 80 barking German Shepherds that were hungry & needed their poop cleaned up. Not fun!”

Alison Newman– “I worked at Longs Drug Store in Palos Verdes.  We would stock shelves on the morning shift.  When we went to get the merchandise from the warehouse, we found a rattlesnake!  The fire department came and trapped him.  Several times after that, we found rattlesnake skins in different areas of the warehouse.  They were a part of the Palos Verdes lifestyle.”

Shelley Stallings-“In high school, a got a job as the Easter Bunny at Bullock’s.  I had to wear a big bunny costume with a third degree sunburn at an Easter brunch for kids.   I was also a Santa’s helper at Bullocks, putting kids on Santa’s lap.  Before I came to Richardson, I worked as a cocktail waitress and bartender at the Hungry Tiger on Silver Spur for nine years”.

Jessica Rodriguez-“My very first job was as a part-time valet.  I parked cars for private parties all over Los Angeles.   I got to drive nice cars (although not the best ones because I can’t drive stick shift), I was given free “party” food, I sat around with friends until the party was over, and then I ran to retrieve those cars.”

Leslie Bezich-“I worked in bakery.  The last day, before going off to college, one of my friends asked me to take her shift for her.  I did and was held up by a girl for thirty-five dollars that was in the cash register.  I had to testify in court and found out that she had held up thirty-one other places that same weekend.  She was jailed and then escaped when she was attending her brother’s furneral a couple of months later.  The police said they would notify me when they found her.  They never did find her.”

We are glad that the other jobs didn’t work out and that you are all part of RMS now.  Lucky us!


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