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Where Were They Then?

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Advanced Placement Psychology teacher Nicole Turgeon-Williams led tour groups in Japan

Advanced Placement Psychology teacher Nicole Turgeon-Williams led tour groups in Japan

Kate Cressey

Kate Cressey

Advanced Placement Psychology teacher Nicole Turgeon-Williams led tour groups in Japan

Maddie Dettling, Sentry Staff Reporter

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Can you guess which of your favorite teachers used to manage tours in Japan? Or who used to work on a Pirates of the Caribbean ship? We see them everyday, (usually) obey their every command and depend on them to shape our futures via college recommendations, but how much do we really know about these authority figures in our lives? From summer lifeguarding to social work, here is what were they doing before they were grading papers and planning lessons.

Foods and Fitness teacher Rosemary Molle held quite the variety of jobs before her current gig. She began with the usual teenage positions, working as both a lifeguard and in an ice cream parlor. In college, she knew she wanted to go into education, though it did not happen right away.

“I wanted to be a teacher, but when I was at [Virginia] Tech you had to student-teach your entire senior year, and I didn’t want to give up a whole year of college life,” she said with a laugh.

As a result, Molle went directly into social work in the DC area where she risked her life every day by visiting the homes of welfare recipients in dangerous neighborhoods, who were sometimes mentally unstable.

These visits were no walk in the park, as Molle counted her strangest experience as when a man pretended to be blind, then repeatedly said “I would kill you if I could see.” It is no secret as to why her current job teaching students about food and nutrition is her favorite.

Advanced placement psychology teacher Nicole Turgeon-Williams’ colorful personality matches her varied job choices. From cleaning houses as a teen to working as a nanny to being an international study abroad publicity person, Turgeon-Williams has truly done it all. Her most interesting choice, however, was when she managed an adult tourism group that traveled throughout Japan. While the job itself was already challenging, she had to look after the people in her tour, and ensure that all were safe and happy in the foreign country.

“I was in Japan, and one of my adult participants broke a crown on her tooth during our trip, and if she couldn’t get it fixed she was going to have to go back to the States.They were an elderly couple and they were the sweetest, most wonderful people you would ever meet, and I just wanted it to make it okay for her because she was in a lot of pain. So I worked with the Japanese tour company to find a dentist who supposedly spoke English. Her husband stayed on the tour on the day she was going, and I went with her to the dentist, but the dentist didn’t speak English. So I was sitting next to her, as she’s having dental surgery and the dentist is asking her if it hurt over and over again in Japanese while I tried to translate for her…It was just so bizarre,” Turgeon-Williams said.

And as for the worst job she’s ever had?

“Cleaning my brother-in-law’s apartment,” she said humorously.

Before he was teaching students the joys of physics, David Mauer was a captain on historically-rigged sailing vessels, like the kind that would appear in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. After majoring in biology with a minor in Maritime Studies and working briefly on a ship as a part of his major, Mauer decided that he loved the thrill of the job and was hired right after college.

“We did educational programs on multiple different ships, with different audiences. Like, we would take up to 40 kids out for a three hour trip to teach them about environmental education or local history, depending on the boat,” Mauer noted.

While the job was both thrilling and challenging, he sought a more secure future in teaching, and eventually gave it up before becoming a teacher.

Assistant principal Laura Porter worked the ultimate summer job at TJ Maxx, where she manned the service desk as a 17-year-old. One of her jobs was to manage returns, and cited her favorite aspect of it as being able to catch people who “switch tickets.”

“People would buy something, and change the tag on it, but if you worked there long enough you knew which department it should belong to. So, sometimes people would go home and they would take a tag from something that was sold at TJ Maxx and put it on something that was not sold at TJ Maxx, and then try to return it. But although the brands at TJ Maxx seem random, there are actually very specific brands that they carry. So, somebody would bring something in and say that they bought it there, but I knew that they hadn’t, so I would refuse to accept it. Some people would try to cause fights so my assistant manager told me to just take it back. When I wouldn’t, my manager just had to get behind the desk and do it himself because I refused to,” she remembered.

In college, she worked at a gym and got certified as a personal trainer. Then, she joined a few friends in being teaching assistants at a summer school program, where she discovered her passion for education.

Once our teachers and administrators were just like you or me, trying to figure out what they wanted to do for the rest of their life, and as you can see, it took some time. From life-threatening to just plain tedious, these odd jobs led our teachers and administrators to where they are now.

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Where Were They Then?