Jane Springer showing her Baron spirit (left) and posing with Jane Lynch at CNN Heroes. Photo courtesy of Jane Springer.
Fountain Valley High School

Fountain Valley High School teachers before teaching math

Math teachers Robert Papendick and Jane Springer didn’t start out teaching math; before teaching at Fountain Valley High School (FVHS), Papendick spent many years with the air force space program in Vandenberg and as a configuration manager in the Pentagon. Springer worked various jobs such as modeling, counseling at Andersen Consulting and as a manager at DirecTV.

Inspired by the world of science, Papendick pursued his dream in this field for over 10 years, going through many unique experiences and contributing greatly to this field.

“The most unique job was probably Vandenberg Air Force Space. We were putting satellites up into space,” said Papendick, recalling one of his jobs that he had.

There, Papendick worked as a project officer where he worked on a system in a satellite that calculates where the

Robert Papendick proudly receives his certificate for his service (right) and Papendick now in his last year of teaching (left). Photo courtesy of Robert Papendick.
Robert Papendick proudly receives his certificate for his service (right) and Papendick now in his last year of teaching (left). Photo courtesy of Robert Papendick.

rocket is, where it’s supposed to be and sends it back to a radar side so they can keep track of it. Papendick had many interesting experiences throughout his time spent there: he experienced the first Peacekeeper Missile launch, the preparation for the Space Launch Complex Six launch and protests around the base for anti-nukes.

“It was a fun job. It was a unique opportunity. Where else can you come out of a four-year college and do something like that?” Papendick said.

While working in the space Los Angeles Air Force, his friend, a community college professor, convinced him to teach in a Saturday morning class for computer science, a subject that he knew well. Although he spent time doing both jobs, he decided to become a teacher through the Troops to Teachers program.

He has been teaching at FVHS for 18 years and plans to retire after this year.

Before educating students about planes and proofs, Accelerated Geometry and Precalculus teacher, Jane Springer, spent 15 years, from 1993 to 2008, at DirecTV in El Segundo.

Springer worked as a Senior Marketing Manager and through DirecTV, she had the chance to work with many networks like A&E, getting the opportunity to attend screenings and tapings of shows. Through this experience, Springer met many well-known celebrities, such as “Glee” and “Wreck-It-Ralph” star Jane Lynch.

Once Springer married and moved to Orange County, she found it difficult living three hours away from her workplace, so she decided to leave DirecTV when she became a mother to spend more time with her family. In addition, the management changed and it was a different environment that didn’t suit her, which also contributed to her decision to change her career.

“I’m glad I made the change, because I feel like this is the most rewarding job I’ve ever been at. My other job we would go to these seminars and they would say all of these inspirational things, but I’d be like ‘Oh, I’m just scheduling commercials. Big whoop.’ But now, I feel like I’m making more of a difference,” said Springer.

–Elise Tran and Anju Ito