Katie Ellis (back row, sixth from the left) in the aftermath of the fire drill she prepared for her employees. Photo courtesy of Ellis.by Anju Ito & Elise Tran, Staff Writers
Prior to working as a teacher of Fountain Valley High School (FVHS), Spanish teacher Katie Ellis and physics teacher Jeff Larson have had experience on other interesting jobs as well, including a president of an electronics company and an operations manager of an event center.
Katie Ellis (back row, sixth from the left) in the aftermath of the fire drill she prepared for her employees. Ellis first majored in business management. She was an operations manager of the Grand Long Beach Events Center and ran all the events.
Ellis had to hire the employees, coordinate with chefs, contact the sales people and control how the event was run. She made sure everything was executed to perfection following to what the sales contact wanted. Events she did included weddings, quinceañeras, dances, corporate meetings and various large events.
Ellis always showed interest in business and despite no longer being in the profession, still does.
“I like business; I still like business. It interests me. I like also executing ideas and so, I liked the conventional services aspect, so I was looking at hotels and running the events there. But I landed a job, it wasn’t a hotel, but it was an event center and so I liked working with all the people and making sure the events were executed appropriately,” said Ellis.
Running all of the events were stressful and time consuming leading to why Ellis decided to leave business management. There were times when the event was extremely hectic that she wouldn’t get a day off for three weeks. The hours that she had to work were also odd and at times she would have to get up in the middle of the night to deal with situations.
“It was difficult to take vacations and once I got married and basically wanted to start a family, it wasn’t seeming like the job that would be great for having a family,” said Ellis
Once Ellis wanted to create a family and spend more time with them, she decided to leave business and pursue a different career, Spanish.
She learned Spanish throughout her high school years and continued in college. Ellis tutored other students as well starting her junior year in high school and ended when she graduated college. She also taught her employees at her business management job English, because they only had a limited knowledge of it and spoke primarily Spanish.
“In my job, I found myself wanting to teach all of my employees more English because they all spoke Spanish. So, I was trying to help them out with their English skills and to be able to better assist the clients and so, I decided that I would teach instead. I love it; it was my other option if I didn’t want to do business.” Ellis said.
Only having to take one year of classes, she received her credentials.
“You don’t have to start out on one path and stick to it the whole time,” said Ellis. “If you find another interest, it’s okay.”
Not only a physics teacher at FVHS, Larson has also worked as a communications test engineer and a president of Larson Electronics Manufacturing in the past.
After graduating from college with a physics major, Larson spent 4 or 5 years working as an engineer for communications satellites. This was a very interesting job for Larson, as he was able to work with many technical machines such as the satellites, thermal vacuum chambers, and big shaker tables.
Later on, Larson got laid off in his first company due to a space shuttle explosion that occurred that prevented the company from launching a satellite, and the company was forced to cut workers. From there, Larson went back to college in order to get his Master’s degree to work in his family-run company, Larson Electronics Manufacturing, as a vice president until his father retired and he became the president from there.
The company made profit by selling electrical equipments to recreational vehicle manufacturers, and while he was in the company, he was able to visit various different manufactures, working not only on his specialities but on other things as well such as sales, insurance for the employees and different fields of engineering like circuit engineering and products engineering.
“I think the thing I enjoyed most was just seeing something that you produced and engineered and designed get boxed up and shipped out and customers actually buying it, and installing it. That was very satisfying,” said Larson.
One time when Larson was selling a product to a company, the company had a conflict where they were not able to put together the product’s color-coded wires together, which was caused by the yellow sodium light at the factory. “We went into the factory and found out why they weren’t wiring our products correctly, because all the wires looked yellow or black, and they couldn’t tell the rest of the colors because there was only yellow light. So the solution was to give them a flashlight, and they can see all the colors,” Larson said, explaining his amusing experience.
After experiencing working in both big and small companies, his top two things on his list of jobs that he had wanted to do, Larson decided to do the third thing on his list–teaching. Currently, he is on his 26th year of teaching, enjoying his job a lot.
“It’s a lot of fun. There’s never a dull moment. And I love physics, and this is the job that I’ve actually spent the most time in doing physics. Engineering was not so much physics, it was engineering, so this is where I actually get to teach physics every day,” said Larson.