California Educator

August 2016

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W H E N H E W A L K S t h r o u g h Ve n t u r a schools, he's greeted like a rock star. Principals, teachers, classified staff and students smile, wave and call out "Hey, Rob" as he passes by lugging a 250-pound snake. (Not th e kind that hi sses, but unclogs drains.) He knows everyone by name and basks in the glow. "I usually make everyone laugh wher- ever I am," he says, showing off his motto "Live, Love, Laughter" tattooed across the fingers of both hands, which can be seen when they are side by side. But it's not just personality; plumbers are popular people in general because they fix things such as toilets, storm drains, sewer lines and drinking fountains. "I'm one of those people you call when you're not having a good day," Pennington says. "Teachers and principals love me. ey know that when I arrive, things are about to get a whole lot better." He has been a plumber for 24 years, working for the Ventura Unified School District for a decade. He loves his work, his co-workers and Ventura's students, many of whom he has coached on soccer and baseball teams. He also loves being a highly involved member of the Ventura Education Sup- port Professionals Association, serving on CTA State Council and the CTA Com- munications Committee. Being involved in the union is just another way to help others and make sure they are treated fairly, he says. His wife, Christie, is an assistant man- ager for a local plumbing supply house, and they have two children who have gone through the school district. We caught up with Rob recently while he was unclogging a storm drain after a rainy spell. "I used to play in the mud. Now I'm getting paid for it," he laughs. 19 August 2016 Above, Pennington at work at Saticoy Elementary School in Ventura. At right, he shows off his personal motto. In Rob's words: THE MOST INTERESTING THING I'VE EVER FOUND CLOGGING A PIPE OR DRAIN WAS… an eel about 2 feet long. Pretty funny, huh? I've also pulled out jump ropes and dead rats. But by far the most interest- ing thing was the dead eel. I LIKE TO ENCOURAGE STUDENTS… to consider going into the trades. I see some kids who might be trou- blemakers or not on the right path, and I'll encourage them to think about it, because there's great oppor- tunities out there. It's not easy. You work as an apprentice for a few years before becoming a journeyman. It's almost like college. I WANT MY FELLOW CTA MEMBERS TO KNOW… that ESPs are an important part of the CTA organization. We may work behind the scenes, but we have a lot to contribute. ESPs are not always in the limelight, but we keep things running in our schools.

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