Tucked away in the math competition room of the 2000 building is Mr. Richard Rovere, math director of Mu Alpha Theta, Heritage’s math competition team. Having started the math competition team around 16 years ago, Mr. Rovere, with the help of Dr. Radleigh Santos, has led Mu Alpha Theta to success, placing at various math competitions as well as gaining more members and math instructors. However, something that many may not know about Mr. Rovere is that prior to working at Heritage, he held positions in very different areas of the workforce, from law enforcement to coaching sports.
Mr. Rovere first started as a cabana boy at the age of 14 and remained working as this throughout all of high school, spending a lot of time at the beach. He then went to college where he studied Business at the University of Florida and later received his MBA, where he got involved with his first official job in law enforcement.
“I had long hair, rode a motorcycle, and could not see myself in law enforcement, but the job recruiter said the magic words, ‘It pays $3.26 an hour,’” Mr. Rovere said. “Back then the minimum wage was around $1.25. So, for three years I was a police officer for the city of Gainesville.”
While attending college at the University of Florida, Mr. Rovere worked as a police officer for the city of Gainesville. (Photo submitted by Mr. Richard Rovere)
He then took a job as an air conditioning and heating engineer. This job did not appeal much to his interests, so after speaking to a friend who was a teacher, he applied as a teacher to five different schools in Virginia, all of which turned him down due to lack of teaching experience. He finally came across a teaching job at a school in Williamsburg, Virginia. In the interview, Mr. Rovere was asked if he could handle difficult students, as this school was considered tough, and as soon as he replied yes, he got the job.
“I started teaching and realized that what I really enjoy besides teaching math was playing sports,” he said. “After a couple of years as a JV football coach, I moved up to varsity football. I went on to coach varsity football at Lafayette senior high school in Williamsburg, Virginia.”
Five years of teaching later, a teacher who taught across the hall from him, Brady Graham, told him to get out of teaching as teachers didn’t get paid as well as they should for the amount of education and training they had. Rovere then went to work for an airline.
“I always liked the airlines and flying. I applied to Eastern Airlines and was with them for 13 years until Eastern went out of business,” Mr. Rovere said.
He started off on the ramp, loading, unloading and cleaning, and eventually, after multiple promotions, he became a director in the corporate towers.
He then decided he did not like corporate and transferred to be a manager for the operation in Fort Lauderdale airport. A frequent flyer who flew out of Fort Lauderdale airport was his son’s pediatrician, so when Eastern Airlines went out of business, the pediatrician offered him a job as an administrator at Pediatric Associates, where he worked for eight years.
After Pediatric Associates was sold, Mr. Rovere moved onto Heritage. He spoke of his teaching and coaching experience during his interview and was hired on the spot.
“I would say the thing that would have surprised me when I was in high school, would have been if someone had told me that, ‘Well, first of all, you’re going to be a cop.’ I’d say, no way. Then they would say, ‘You’re going to work in medical practice,’ and I’d say, ‘ain’t happening’. And then ‘You’re going to be a school teacher.’ I would’ve said no to all three, that would never happen.”
Mr. Rovere worked as various different positions for Eastern Airlines from loading luggage to working as a director in corporate. (Photo submitted by Mr. Richard Rovere)
Mr. Rovere acknowledges that one passion he has always held is math. He appreciates how math cannot be subjective, no matter who you are or where you come from, because in math, there is either a right answer or wrong answer.
“Math, the great equalizer. I tell the students every math problem is a puzzle to solve. Your reward is you can get the right answer or you can’t,” he said. “I say no one ever loses. You either win or you get an opportunity to learn. And if you’re learning, you’re not losing.”