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Business & Economy

Five years after Lehman, Off-Ramp follows up with laid off LAUSD educator

Rosanna and Tony Llorens with their daughter Ruby at their Miracle Mile home.
Rosanna and Tony Llorens with their daughter Ruby at their Miracle Mile home.
Kevin Ferguson/KPCC

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Five years ago, September 15, the investment firm Lehman Brothers collapsed, as appropriate of a starting point as any for the Great Recession. 

Two years ago, unemployment was hovering between 9 and 9 and a half percent. Foreclosures still ran wild and schools all over California were feeling the pinch. For Off-Ramp's Hard Times series, producer Kevin Ferguson talked with Rosanna White, a high school teacher in Los Angeles who got her second layoff notice in a row.

Now, Off-Ramp is looking at life five years after the recession started to see how they are. Now known as Rosanna Llorens, she's married and mother to a little girl. Kevin Ferguson caught up with Rosanna and her family.

Rosanna had her 2011 layoff notice rescinded, but in 2012 she was pink slipped again--this time, it stuck. Llorens was pregnant, and her daughter overdue. "It was terrifying," said Llorens. "I was under the impression that my benefits ran out on June 30. So it's like 'oh my God, we're due to have a baby, and what about insurance?"

The Llorens family began to talk with their doctor about inducing labor--partially to ensure their child's birth would be covered by their insurance.

Rosanna says she took the time between jobs to spend time with her newborn daughter and reassess her career. Before long, Rosanna found a job as a college counselor at a private school in Santa Monica. For Rosanna, the transition to public education to private was easy. "It would've been more difficult if I didn't have the year off," she said. "I went sort of back into worth with a clean slate." 

When asked if she felt she was a victim of the recession, Rosanna pauses. "I specifically remember when those things crashed and thinking I was in a bullet proof profession," said Llorens. 

"They're always gonna need teachers, and I'm teaching in the inner city. They're not going to get rid of teachers from the inner city because those are the highest need areas. I didn't so much feel a victim to the recession as I felt a victim to poor management at a time when everybody had limited resources."

Rosanna says that she and her family are still recovering--during the layoff and pregnancy Rosanna and her husband had to dig into their savings a bit more than they would've liked. But she hopes her story can inspire hope in others. "I have thought back to that window of time and hope people can be encouraged who are going through this," said Llorens. "We're not wealthy, we're not doing excessively well. But we have recovered to a degree. And I think hanging onto that sense of hope and possibility is important."