12-30-2002, 10:22 AM #1
- Join Date
- Apr 2002
- Land of milk and honey.
Teacher trades school bell for fire bell
Davie woman trades in 11 years teaching for firefighting.
By Nicole T. Lesson
December 27, 2002
Monique Florea is trading in her grade book for an ax.
After more than 11 years helping shape children's lives as an elementary school teacher, Florea will help save lives by becoming a firefighter/paramedic.
"It's something I have thought about for a while, and I feel like I needed something new in my life," said Florea, 34, of Davie. "I will miss teaching and the teachers and students that I have crossed paths with. But it's a nice change that presented itself."
Florea, a third-grade teacher at Pasadena Lakes Elementary School in Pembroke Pines, who left her job last week at the winter break, was brought to tears when she was honored at a recent going-away party.
Teachers and the staff sang to her, shared personal stories and gave her gifts, including such fire fighter-themed mementos as a plastic helmet and a pin in the shape of a Dalmatian.
"You are my extended family," Florea said at the gathering. "I am going to miss you and all I need is your prayers -- and nothing's tougher than teaching."
On Jan. 6, Florea will begin classes at the academy in Davie. She will not be the only family member starting that day. Her oldest brother, Michael Florea, 36, who is employed in sales, is also switching careers to become a firefighter/paramedic.
The Floreas apparently are the first brother and sister who will go through the academy at the same time, according to an academy official and Todd LeDuc, a spokesman for Broward County Fire-Rescue.
"I'm going to have to stop being a big brother because she wants to do it on her own," said Michael Florea, who lives in Hollywood. "We are each other's biggest fans and fiercest competitor."
Cathy Greenspan, Pasadena Lakes' reading resource specialist, shared her thoughts about Monique Florea, who taught for a year at Harbordale Elementary in Fort Lauderdale and for two years at Indian Trace Elementary in Weston.
"You are not really leaving our profession, but will continue to help others," she said. "You have the courage to make the change and it's the time to do it."
For the past few years, Monique Florea has seriously considered entering the fire service. She has been encouraged to do so by two brothers who are firefighters -- Christopher Florea, 35, who works for Deerfield Beach Fire-Rescue, and Nick Florea, 25, with Lighthouse Point Fire-Rescue.
"They have been trying to get me to do this for a while, and have more confidence in me than I do," said Monique Florea, who recently completed emergency medical technician school at Broward Community College in Coconut Creek. "They say if anyone can do it, it's you. I didn't think I could pass the agility test, but I did."
On her first try, Monique Florea passed the physical agility test, a series of firefighting-oriented tasks that a person must complete within 7 minutes to be admitted to the Broward County Fire Academy. Her time was 5 minutes 25 seconds -- an impressive time for both male and females, according to several fire service personnel.
Monique Florea can't wait to get into a fire station and said she isn't intimated by the male domination of the field. There are only about 6,100 women firefighters among the 300,000 firefighters in the United States, according to Women in the Fire Service Inc.
"I feel fortunate I grew up with three brothers," she said, who noted that she got tougher as a result. "I have been working in a female-dominated profession for 12 years. [But] I am more comfortable around men and it doesn't bother me at all."
As part of the emergency medical technician school, both Monique Florea and her brother Michael spent 48 hours with Deerfield Beach Fire-Rescue employees.
"Firefighters/paramedics amaze me -- the way they work with the nurses and doctors in the field, the whole system," she said. "It's a little scary, but I think the confidence will come with years."
Cooper City Firefighter/Paramedic Kevin Donnelly has nothing but confidence for his friend of 10 years.
"I can't wait until she gets on the job," said Donnelly, a firefighter for 16 years. "She will fit in well. She's very adaptable, level-headed, realistic and thick-skinned. And she will have no problem physically."
Monique Florea said that the teaching bug will still be in her system. A firefighter's schedule, which calls for working a 24-hour shift and then having two days off, will allow her to satisfy her that appetite.
"With my schedule, I will be able to be a substitute teacher," she said. "I also would like to teach in the fire service one day."
Her parents, Mike and Denise Florea of Hollywood, have no problems with all four children working as firefighters.
"It was totally her decision and I know she will continue teaching," her father said. "She's also the type that will excel at whatever she does."
Before making her life-changing decision, Monique Florea admitted there were some things that were nonnegotiable.
"There were three things I said that I would not do when I became a firefighter. I would not cut my hair like a boy, I would not stop getting pedicures and I would not get a pickup," she said.
12-30-2002, 10:36 AM #2
- Join Date
- Feb 2001
You can always go back to teaching, once your to old for the fire service. It's alot harder to become a Firemen as a second career.
Good luck and welcome“Just when you think something is made to be Idiot Proof. They go a head and make a better Idiot”
12-30-2002, 08:03 PM #3
- Join Date
- Apr 2001
- Elkhart, IN, USA
Amasing, we have a firefighter who is retiring (20 years) and going to become a teacher. He went to college while on days off and traded time to take classes. Has been teaching as a subsitute now for about a year. THe more things change the more they stay the same.
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