Bogart’s Coffee Shop, Seal Beach unveils portrait of Michael Pless, Kim Frassett, artist.
Celebrate Mother’s Day Beach Style!
A scientist by training, Pless is as comfortable in a wetsuit as a lab jacket. Whether she’s out in the water giving surfing lessons or teaching kids about biology, one thing is clear – she’s having a blast…and her students are, too.
Pless helps her surfer husband Michael Pless Sr. run the M&M Surfing School(714-U-Go-Surf) in Seal Beach…and also has her own business, Science-2-U, which brings educational science programs to local students who are being home-schooled.
Pless, who graduated from California State University, Northridge, with a degree in biology and marine biology, loves the outdoors and nature, especially the ocean. “Michael and I met at the beach,” Jill told SurfWriter GirlsSunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel. “A friend and I wanted to learn to surf and we went to Seal Beach. I saw Michael’s truck with the surfing school name on it and took a lesson from him.” One thing led to another as they became friends and eventually married.
The concept for Science-2-U came to Pless one day when she was in her car at a stop light thinking about what kind of business she could start. “When my kids were born I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom,” she said. “I was working as a biologist for the L.A. County Sanitation District and the straw that broke the camel’s back was when they asked me to work on Mother’s Day…and I was the only mother in the group.”
For Pless, the thrill of seeing a first-time surfer catch a wave is hard to beat. When the lesson is over and the new surfer is excitedly telling everyone about the experience, Pless is excited, too, and ready to go back out again. It’s the same feeling for Pless when she shows a student how to do a lab experiment and sees that look of comprehension come over the student’s face – the “a ha! Moment” that says, “I can do this.”
Life in the Pless household definitely revolves around the ocean and the M & M Surfing School, founded in 1995. Jill, Michael, and son Michael Pless Jr. all give surfing lessons… and Jill offers surf camps that teach children about the ocean environment.
During the camps, on any given day, she can be seen with the kids gathering water testing samples, studying the marine life, or explaining the tides and waves.
Michael Sr., who has become a local celebrity and good will ambassador for surfing, is known as The Saint of Seal Beach because he puts on a Santa Claus suit at Christmastime and surfs up and down the coastline. Jill joins in the fun, dressed as Mrs. Claus, and Mike Jr. dons a Frosty the Snowman suit.
Jill and Michael enjoy spending family time together with their five children Michael Jr., Lisa, Jennifer, Sierra and Austin and two grandsons Jace and Jake Ryan. On a typical weekend, Jill says, “We all surf together and then come home and make enchiladas. Or we go across the street from the pier to El Burrito Jr., our favorite place, or to Nick’s.” At home Jill does most of the cooking, “but Michael will pinch hit when needed.”
As the Surfin’ Mama of Seal Beach, Jill Pless is nurturing the surfers she teaches and helping to train the next generation of marine biologists. Her dream of being a stay-at-home mom has expanded to include the beach and ocean that she loves.
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An increasing number of surfing instructions are setting up shop along Southern California beaches without the proper permits, a sidestep of the law that authorities and surfers say could be dangerous.
What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave
by Peter Weller
With grit, poetry, and humor, Peter Heller, acclaimed author of The Whale Warriors recounts his remarkable journey of discovery—of surfing, an entirely new challenge; of the ocean’s beauty and power; of the strange surf subculture; of love; and, most of all, of how to seek adventure while crafting a meaningful life.
M&M Surfing School is featured in Kook, by Peter Heller