We Are L.A. Unified

If you’re an L.A. Unified alumnus or student, chances are good that a member of the Sam Rios’ family painted the school’s exterior.

The patriarch, Sam, who is deceased, worked as a District painter for decades. So have his sons, David, now retired, and 61-year-old William, who’s still on the job.

At 13, William began working with his father. “I was one of six kids,” he noted, “and I wanted to be sure to spend more time with my dad.”

Through his 26 years with the District, William estimates that he has painted “hundreds” of schools. His current project is Warner Elementary School.

He is currently part of the Envelope Program, which deploys teams of painters for three to five months at particular schools across the District that need aesthetic improvements. “The work is laid out months in advance. We know what we have to do.”

William approaches each campus project with a customer-first attitude. “The kids and staff see me working hard every day to serve them. They deserve the best we have to offer. I treat the campus like it’s a person’s home.”

William has four children and six grandchildren, none of whom, at this point, have been inclined to continue the family business. “Painting has allowed me to raise my kids and put them through college,” William said, “but they are making different choices.“

”Still,” he said, “they call me when they want something painted.”

-Thomas Waldman

To nominate a teacher, student, employee or volunteer, send an email to Thomas.Waldman@lausd.net or call (213) 241-6766.

Photo Credit: Cosme Sandavol

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