Pam Aliotti: 'The kids and the camaraderie with the students keeps me excited and going in the job'
Monterey High School
When Pam Aliotti graduated from Monterey High School little did she know she would one day become the café manager of the Monterey Café. She began her career in the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District in a manager floater position eight years ago at Walter Colton Middle School.
At the time she was a full-time mother to three school aged children (also in MPUSD) and felt the position was so convenient because it aligned to her children’s schedule. It allowed her to contribute to her family as well as still be engaged as a mom with their schooling.
Following her tenure at Colton Middle she quickly moved onto café manager at Monterey High and has been there for the past eight years, marking 16 years total in the district to date.
“The kids and the camaraderie with the students keeps me excited and going in the job,” states Pam. “The high school level is so much more different than at middle school. Here students go out of their way to greet you and say ‘good morning.’ They are just a joy to be around.”
While high school students are likely still snoozing, Pam’s day is already underway. Her day begins at 5 a.m. preparing and getting the breakfast meals ready for students. She and her team are also setting up the fresh fruits and vegetables for the entire day. Pam’s attention then quickly shifts to paperwork and doing the administrative side of the job before the 7 a.m. rush comes in for breakfast. On average, the Café serves between 80 to 85 students breakfast daily.
Immediately following breakfast, Pam prepares for break where nearly 300 students pass through the Café before shifting to lunch service with about 280 students. Many of the students that visit the inside of the Monterey Café participate in the reimbursable meal program (e.g., free and reduced price meal) whereas more students tend to visit the snack bar just outside of the Monterey Café. The snack bar typically serves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, french fries, cookies and the like.
Pam is extremely proud of the four-member team and considers them family. “We cook from scratch,” she says with a smile. “I feel like we spend more of our time here than at home. We know about each other's lives and what is going on.”
When asked what she would want students and staff to know about her work, she immediately shined the light on her team. “I would want them to know that the girls and I do our best to make the food taste good. We encourage kids to try the food and to not just go by the way something looks. We want it to taste good and we want them to come back,” says Pam.
Pam indicated that there is a “misperception about covered meals” and believing they are processed. “We constantly ask for feedback on different dishes and kids ask if we make them,” she says.
On a personal note, all three of Pam’s children attended Monterey High, as well as her parents. “We are three generations here,” she says.
The difference she sees when she attended MHS is that when she was a student she and her peers would go off campus to eat. When her children attended, they would want her to pack their lunch. And, today she is making all the lunches for MHS students. “The Café style is so much nicer than what we had when we attended Monterey High,” says Pam.
“Sure, I love the hours. I love the time off. But, I absolutely love my job. I have kids ask me all the time if I like my job and I say, ‘Of course I like my job - it fits me,’” states Pam.