Education

Student story: What were the first jobs of Belleville East teachers?

Many of the teachers at Belleville East High School had jobs during their high school years. Known to tell tall-tales of his multiple wives and missing toes, science teacher Jeff West explained his experiences working during high school. West began working after his father fell ill.

His father had worked two jobs and after becoming ill, West, his mother, and his siblings had to pick up the slack.

“We still had fun at work,” West said.

His first job was at Hardees. He began working with his best friend at the time. After two months of work, all employees were up for evaluation. If they were doing well, they would receive a five, 10, or 15-cent raise. West’s best friend received the 15-cent raise, yet West only received 5-cents. Confused, and slightly annoyed, West went to talk to his manager.

According to West, his manager responded by saying “It’s because you ask too many questions.” West is currently the head of the science department at Belleville East. “That was probably a clue. You’re supposed to ask questions in science,” West said.

After his experience at Hardees, West moved on to Dairy Queen where he would gain stories to tell in his science classes. To make a long story short, he nearly burned down the building during the grand re-opening.

Spanish teacher Melissa Mueth remembers the first day of her first job.

“I worked at a video store for my first job. I simply followed the owner around and watched what she did,” Mueth said.

The store began as a video store and soon added an ice cream shop, which Mueth worked in as well. Since Mueth comes from a large family, she received a lot of hand-me-downs. Her first purchase was an outfit of her own.

Her parents were never opposed to the idea of her working.

“School came first. If my grades fell, I was told that I would have to quit my job,” Mueth said.

History teacher Katie Hoerner was not allowed to work during the school year.

“Since I played two sports, I never would have been able to squeeze it in,” Hoerner said.

During the summer, Hoerner did work for a Nike sales rep entering invoices. Like West, Hoerner learned from this job.

“It was very boring. I knew that I’d never be able to work at a computer,” Hoerner said.

English teacher Sheila Misselhorn’s first job hinted at her passion for teaching.

In the small town of Sparta where she lived, there were only two swimming pools: the private pool at the local country club, and the new pool that Misselhorn’s dad had built in their backyard. Since she was a skilled swimmer, at age 14, Misselhorn decided to make money by teaching swim lessons.

“This fills a need and it’s something I can do,” Misselhorn said she thought at the time.

Misselhorn worked as a swim instructor from age 14 until her first year of college. People in her hometown still recognize her as the girl who taught them how to swim. Overall, she said the job was fun but some of the students were difficult to teach.

Some refused to put their faces under the water until they had gone through four lessons.

“It was maddening,” Misselhorn said.

While continuing her swim lessons, Misselhorn also decided to apply at the local KFC.

“It was a new restaurant in town,” Misselhorn said. She applied with all of her friends.

At the job, there were very distinct roles: cooks who worked in the back, packers who worked near the middle, and cashiers — the glamorous jobs — who worked up front.

Misselhorn was hired as a packer, but by the second day she had impressed her boss so much that she was moved to the cashier position.

“You had to know how to make change for a dollar,” Misselhorn said, since there were no computers.

Working at KFC taught Misselhorn how to be tactful, efficient and a team player. Frequently, the team liked to mess around while cleaning. Before closing, the cooks had to clean the back of the restaurant while the cashiers carried the garbage to the back door. The cooks used hoses with extremely hot water to clean the back, and occasionally used them to spray the cashiers.

“The guys thought it was hilarious to try to spray us,” Misselhorn said.

As she made the journey toward the back door, she ran into a grease patch.

“I was kind of sliding to get away from them,” Misselhorn said. She continued sliding through the remainder of the restaurant out the back door onto a patch of ice.

“I slid all the way to the dumpster. Then I hit the ground. They laughed until they could not stand up,” Misselhorn said.

In all, the job was enjoyable, but during her senior year, Misselhorn acquired a leadership position on her school’s student council, so she quit her job.

“School was more important to me,” Misselhorn said.

Many teachers juggled school and work just as students are currently juggling the two. Overall, most people agree the best part of working during high school is the life experiences.

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