Before launching my teaching career, I spent five years working in Hyde Park, South Central Los Angeles. My father bought an established wholesale barbeque rib business where I worked in sales and delivery. It was an amazing experience in diversity. All of our employees spoke Spanish, and most of our customers were from West LA. Koreans and African Americans owned most of the surrounding businesses. When the riot broke out in 1992, our shop was looted, but not burned down. I believe the business was saved because of the excellent relationship we established with our neighbors.
That was my “day job” while I worked on television and commercial production on the weekends. Production work is high-energy and complex. It requires excellent time-management skills. I learned how to create and keep a tight schedule, and how to complete tasks with precision. For example, I was once given three hours to find, purchase, and transport a size 54 orange jumpsuit (without the benefits of the Internet). I delivered the costume on time. I understand working under the pressure of a deadline, and the importance of accuracy.
In my first two years of teaching drama in middle school, I directed a group of traveling actors knows as Mime and Madness. Next, I brought my production experience with me to Redlands High School. I was asked to create a new media arts program. Today, the students in this program use technology to create their own short films and animation projects. They send their projects to competitive student film festivals. The "Digital Dogz" won top awards in the PAH (Project Accessible Hollywood) Festival sponsored by Christopher Coppola; the Inland Empire Media Academy Film Festival at San Bernardino Valley College; and the SLATE Short Film Festival.
In addition, I advised the RHS Associated Student Body while teaching Student Government and Leadership for two years. I also advised a service club of students who built houses for needy families in Mexico with the Hands of Mercy organization.