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Before They Were Staff
Take a look back at the creative and unique jobs that several Dallastown staff members had as young adults.
May 18, 2022
It’s a hot summer day in York, and you’re in a field at Brown’s Orchard picking fruit for the market. You hear a voice next to you, but it’s in a different language that you don’t understand, yet you want to know what that voice is saying. This was a reality for Spanish teacher Senora Garrett.
“I got my first job picking strawberries as a field worker for Brown’s Orchard when I was 12 years old.” explained Garrett
During her summers, she would work at Brown’s 6 days a week from 7AM to 12PM picking strawberries and blueberries for anywhere from $0.20 – $0.25 per quart.
“The Mexican and Cuban workers were very fast pickers, so my goal was to keep up with them,” Garrett mentioned. “I would normally pick 100 quarts of strawberries which meant I made $20-$25 in 5 hours, which was a good wage back then.”
At 15 she moved to picking cherries and working at the roadside stand from 1PM-6PM, and at 16 she moved to working at the market year round until she left for college.
In high school, Garrett had a natural curiosity for the Spanish language. “When I was working side by side with the migrant workers in the fields, I couldn’t help but wonder what they were talking about.” she mentioned.
She began taking Spanish classes here at Dallastown High School with the goal of ultimately being able to communicate with the people she worked with.
“As my knowledge of Spanish grew, I could understand more and more of what they were saying.” she explained.
Eventually she was able to have conversations with the migrant workers, and she listened to their stories of how they came to America and about their families.
When I was working side by side with the migrant workers in the fields, I couldn’t help but wonder what they were talking about.
— Senora Garrett
She especially remembers a moving story from an elderly man from Cuba who was picking strawberries in the row next to hers.
“I will never forget his story about how he came to the United States to have a better life,” she described. “He told me about his family and how he was working at Browns’ so he could send money back to his family in Cuba.”
Garrett attributes this memory to one of the earliest realizations to the benefits of speaking multiple languages, and is also when she made her decision to study the language in college.
“I attended IUP (Indiana Univ. of PA) for my Bachelor’s degree in Spanish education and then attended Gratz College for my Master’s degree in Education.” she said.
During her sophomore year in college, she lived in Valladolid, Spain to attend college and to immerse herself in the culture and language.
“I lived with a family that didn’t speak English, so this was the best way to improve my Spanish,” she noted. “The study abroad experiences were some of the best times of my life and definitely integral in the development of my cultural and linguistic proficiency.”
Currently, Garrett is the World Language Dept. Chair, Global Scholars Advisor, and Intermediate World Language Program Coordinator. She is also on the Executive Council of the PA State Modern Language Association (PSMLA), and the chair of the Advocacy Committee.
“Through PSMLA, I have developed strong ties with other world language teachers in the state and have the ability to support other language teachers,” Garrett explained.
“I worked for almost three years to get the PA Seal of Biliteracy passed, and it finally came to fruition this year,” Garrett noted. “Since the PA Seal of Biliteracy passed in March, I am now helping other school districts throughout the state to set up programs to offer the seal to their students.”
Garrett also mentioned that she has gained a lot of her interest and ability from her previous Spanish teachers, and that they’ve helped her even in her teaching career.
“One of my most influential professors at college taught me world language methodology and phonemes of Spanish which are two essential components of teaching a world language,” said Garrett. “To this day, Dr. Glisan still sits on my shoulder (figuratively, of course) to make sure that I am using the correct methodology and teaching only in the target language!”
There are many benefits to all aspects of life when you have the ability to speak or even travel to countries that speak different languages.
“I have learned that perspectives and practices differ greatly among cultures and what we do in the U.S.,” explained Garrett. “It makes us look at the pros and cons of our own culture and to reflect on how we view others and how we want others to view us.”
Mr. Thomas Myers began his teaching career at Dallastown in 1999, and currently teaches classes like Drawing I , Painting I, Graphic Design I and II, Art Fundamentals and sometimes sculpture.
But before Dallastown, Myers had many, varied jobs.
As a child Myers spent time working on his family farm, but at just 13 years old he was hired at Baskin-Robbins scooping ice cream.
“We were not allowed to eat any of the ice cream but no one could ever see us when we went into the freezer,” he explained. “Ice cream heaven.”
At the age of 15 he moved to a position as a dishwasher at a local restaurant, and later was hired by a contractor who had recently started his own business.
“It was him and I doing drywall, termite repair, building garages, insulation, rough and fine carpentry, painting you name it,” he said. “At 17 , I was given my own van and helper to go and do jobs on my own.”
After high school, Myers joined the Army for 3.5 years as an E4 (specialist) stationed in Oahu, Hawaii, in the Schofield Barracks.
“The military gave a lot of memories,” he mentioned. “I learned to scuba dive, fly in helicopters at tree top levels while hanging out the side looking down, boogie board on the North Shore just to name a few.”
Myers has learned a lot through his many experiences in the workforce. “Learning something you don’t want to learn makes you work harder at the things you do like and want to know,” he noted.
“Failure is the first step to success,” he said. “If you don’t try you will never know if you can succeed.”
Mr. Probert is the workforce, college, and career counselor here at Dallastown and is celebrating 25 years of being a part of the district .
At the young age of 12, Probert was already working. “I mowed lawns and did yard work in the summers,” he said. “I also helped my dad paint houses during the summer months.”
Then, at 16, Probert got his first paying job at a grocery store. This wasn’t his only job though, he was offered another position by a family friend who worked at a local cemetery.
“There were a lot of mountainous areas where I grew up, so some of the older cemeteries were located in areas where they could not take heavy equipment,” he explained. “So, we used to hike to the cemeteries with our tools and dig graves by hand.”
During the day, Probert would spend anywhere from eight to ten hours digging graves, and he would even have to go out at night to dig some of the graves.
“Each job was a great experience for me,” he noted. “I was able to build unique skills during each experience.”
Probert attributes the development of his work ethic to working with many different people with many different talents over the years.
“Each work experience you have, no matter how insignificant you may feel it is, can change your life,” he stated. “It all comes full-circle at some point.”
Next year, Probert will have a new title here at Dallastown as Supervisor of Secondary Programs and Services.
Mr. Rexroth is the Tech Ed Department Chair and he teaches CAD, Engineering, Architecture, and Digital Photography classes here at Dallastown.
After his time in college, Rexroth joined Dallastown in 1986 teaching the same classes he is today.
In 1978 Rexroth became one of the first employees ever at a brand new, first of its kind restaurant, that was opening in Red Lion: Hardee’s.
“It was a very big deal and it was always very busy because it was new and there were very limited options for people,” he explained. “That particular restaurant was the 2nd highest in sales in the entire United States.”
“Working the Drive Thru window at Hardees was definitely a challenge,” he noted. “Fitting out the window to deliver the food and drinks isn’t easy when you are 6’7” tall”
Rexroth also worked for the York Water Company digging ditches during his time in college. “They would never allow a backhoe to dig the ditches because they were worried that they would hit the water lines and damage them,” he said.
Rexroth attributes some of the biggest lessons he’s learned to this time in his life.
“A strong work ethic was required to keep your job,” he added. “There was no such thing as “Calling Off”, if you did that you wouldn’t have had your job for very long.”
Mr. Tapp currently teaches Earth & Space Science, AP Environmental Science, and General Science, but others may know him from his time spent teaching Physics, Biology, and The Nature of Science.
Before joining the district in 2008, Tapp previously worked for Columbia High School and Conestoga Valley High School.
As a teenager, Tapp received his first job working in his family’s restaurant, Avalong’s. “We had the best broasted chicken I’ve ever had, by far,” he said.
As with many jobs, the food service industry comes with its ups and downs and some interesting experiences. “I’ve waited on many celebrities…they’re almost all bad tippers! Like, offensively bad!” Tapp mentioned.
Along with his service at the restaurant, Tapp also worked for a dealership selling cars. “I was the guy who you want selling you cars…honest and not pushy…you know, the guy who’s not making any money,” he said.
Tapp also spent time working at J.C. Penney’s selling shoes for commission, and he was also in the Navy.
“I hoped it would help me pay for college.” he noted. “This was an error, but my son joined the Coast Guard this year, and he’s having a very good experience.”
“I really like a lot about teaching,” he began. “and I’m always happy when a student tells me I helped them in some way, but I think that life is more about family, friends, and loved ones.”
Tapp also mentioned his perspective on getting jobs like the ones he had throughout high school.
“I mean this in a positive way; a job can give you a sense of accomplishment and purpose, which is very important, but it’s still a job,” he described.
Mr. Zelger is a social studies teacher here at Dallastown who is known for teaching courses like AP Psychology, CCR Psychology, American History, and History of Agriculture and Food.
Before his start here at Dallastown in 2012, Zelger jumped into the workforce at the early age of 8 when he worked at the bowling alley his family owned.
“I did just about every job that goes into running a bowling alley,” he said. “I worked behind the bowling machines doing repairs as a mechanic and I did janitorial work cleaning after closing time.”
Zelger also made appearances at the counter helping customers, at the snack bar cooking and running food, and even in the marketing scene where he managed the bowling alleys social media platforms and website.
“I also worked for my family lawn care business,” he noted. “The best part about it is the satisfaction of a neat, striped, attractive lawn and the clear before and after as well as the solitude and mindlessness of it all.”
Overall Zelger has taken many lessons from his time spent in the business world. “I learned so much about customer service and how to interact with people that I still try to use in my daily life as a teacher,” he explained.
“Additionally, growing up in the business taught me so much about hard work, perseverance, and to be appreciative of any business that I patronize and the work they do,” he added.
The bowling alley, Lion Bowl, is still open to this day and is located at 90 Martin St. in Red Lion; and Zelger, as advisor of the bowling club, holds all of their events there.