K-Park lunch lady is working with a purpose


Avery Alvarez

Assistant cafeteria lady Maria Montelongo rings up student’s lunches in the cafeteria during A-lunch.

Avery Alvarez, Staff Reporter

Greeting students in the cafeteria every day is a lovely woman with hair pulled back, a pair of small glasses resting on her nose and a radiant smile. Her name tag is secured onto her shirt with a K-Park emblem. It reads “Maria Montelongo.”

After school is over for the week, however, she puts on a name tag with a different emblem. Then, she stands behind a counter and serves ice cream from a line of tubs.

Two years ago Montelongo started working as a lunch lady here at the school, but for five years she has been working part-time as a server at Baskin Robbins.

Montelongo lives with her two girls, seven and eight, and her husband who works for United Airlines and as a police officer. The couple keeps their multiple jobs to keep to keep up with their girl’s various interests.

“I was looking for a job where I can work when my girls are at school,” Montelongo said. “They are in a lot of classes and gymnastics and swim and ballet and I work for them.”

Montelongo finds the effort to be stressful at times, yet she’s always looking for ways to be there for her kids whenever she can.

“Sometimes they ask me ‘mom why do you work a lot?’ And I say ‘you know I work a lot because sometimes you want a lot of stuff right?” Montelongo laughed.

Her and her husband work to make sure their kids are happy. They

“That’s the problem with two jobs: you have to schedule for them. It’s not always hard but we try and say ‘okay you take one day off and the next I take a day off.” Montelongo said.

She finds that at the end of the day that she can be exhausted and wants to rest, but seeing her girls doing what they’re interested in makes it all worthwhile.

“My girls are in ballet the whole year, and then they have a graduation, and they have a performance that I get to see, and seeing them dancing it’s like ‘wow oh my God’. I’m tired but they get to do what they love,” Montelongo said.

Above all, she uses the two jobs as a way to instill a good work ethic into her children. She wants them to know that they can achieve anything that they want if they put in the effort.

“We both try to teach them that if they want something they work for it,” she said, talking about her and her husband. “We teach them that they go to school so that they have a lot of opportunities.”

Montelongo has high hopes for her girls and wants them to excel in whatever they pursue. She wants them to be happy and doesn’t want them to be discouraged by

“I want that they study and finish a career in life that they love. I never want to push them. Because the only way you can do a good job is if you love something,” Montelongo said, “I started here because it’s the only job that I can work for my hours. But when I started working I really liked it and when my kids are grown up I feel like I can stay here and I’ll be fine.”

Montelongo wants people who have jobs that take up a lot of their hours to always remember their families and to honor them in their work. That satisfaction is what brings her happiness and wants to share the thing that makes her smile.

You can find that same smile radiating from her in the lunch lines in the cafeteria. She’ll be wearing a bright colored shirt and a pin on her name tag that says “Best Mom Ever.”