Cantor’s Driving School’s Instructors

Experienced, Knowledgeable, Professional

Cantor’s Driving School instructors are among the best in southern California. All instructors know how teens, adults and seniors learn to drive, so they customize their teaching approaches to their students. All Cantor’s Driving School instructors have clean driving records, child abuse clearances, have passed criminal background checks and been fingerprinted.

Employment for Driving Instructors

Cantor’s Driving School is always looking for good driving instructors. Call us at 310-910-9070 to inquire about current opportunities, or send an email with your resume to

All Instructors Are California State-Certified

Every Cantor’s Driving School instructor is certified by the State of California after completing a rigorous process, including:

  • Complete and submit various CA DMV forms including Driving School Instructor Occupational Licensing Application and Physician’s Health Report
  • Take and complete a California DMV-approved driving instructor course that includes 40 classroom hours and 20 behind-the-wheel hours
  • Take and pass the California DMV Driving School Instructor Written Examination
  • Fingerprinting – applicants must be fingerprinted by a Department of Justice approved Live Scan electronic fingerprinting service
  • Physician’s Health Report
  • Proof of high school graduation or equivalent

Meet Our Driving Instructors

Hale Gammill, III – Director Of Operations

Hale is a second generation driving school professional. He worked in the family business, Arizona School of Driving (later Sears Arizona School of Driving), based in Phoenix, AZ from 1966-1975. He moved to New Jersey in late 1975 to accept a management position with Taggarts Driving School in New York City. Soon he was promoted to Vice-President of Operations for all of Taggarts Driving Schools in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington DC, West Virginia with franchises in Atlanta and Boston.

In 1978, Hale left Taggarts to purchase Safe-Way School of Driving in the greater Los Angeles, CA area. He acquired Sear Driving/Traffic Schools for Southern California in 1980 and Sears Driving/Traffic Schools for Northern California in 1982. Hale owned and operated the largest driving school in California. He sold his driving school interests in 1996 and was semi-retired until 2007, he was offered Director of Operations, Behind the Wheel Division for in Southern California. Under his management become the largest driving school in California by 2010 with offices Northern California, Georgia and later Texas. By 2016, was the largest driving school in the USA; with over 200 instructors, and 120 cars nationwide.

Hale is also a Past-President of the Driving School Association of California, Vice-President of the Driving School Association of the Americas, Former Executive Director of the Driving School Association of the Americas. Former member of the American Society of Safety Engineers and active in several Community Service Clubs.

Shannon Payfer – Riverside County/Inland Empire Instructor

Shannon is a retired police officer from the Oceanside Police Department. Shannon started her career in law enforcement with the San Diego County Probation Department working as a Deputy Probation Officer in Juvenile hall. She then was hired as a Correctional Officer with the San Diego Sheriff’s Department working at Las Colinas Woman’s facility. Shannon was then hired by the Oceanside Police Department as a police officer. She has 20 years in law enforcement and over 25 years of driving experience. Shannon is married, a mother of 2 sons, and has many animals.

Lysset Castellanos – Riverside County/Inland Empire Instructor (Speaks English and Spanish)

Lysset is a former Master Instructor at with almost 10 years of experience. Working under the direction and guidance of Director of Operations Hale Gammill, III, she helped hundreds of students learn to drive. Every student experience is different and she finds great reward in seeing each one accomplish their goals. Lysset resides in the Inland Empire area with her husband and three children. Her favorite pastimes include baking for friends and family and decorating her home for the holidays.

Greg Hargis – Riverside County/Inland Empire instructor

Greg is a former Master Instructor at and was personally trained by Director of Operations Hale Gammill III ten years ago. He has helped many hundreds of students to be the safest drivers they can be. He has a great love for teaching. Every student is different, so adaptability is the key in his driving instruction methods. Greg resides in the Inland Empire with his wife. His main hobby is making music, as he plays several instruments.

Juan Diaz – Central/West/South LA County Instructor

Juan is a long time Angelino resident. He has a background in the auto industry, with knowledge about automotive systems from his work as a manual transmissions technician, and experience in the auto insurance industry for several years, where he helped people navigate their insurance coverage, surpassing their expectations with his dedication to customer service. He aspires to work towards getting his real estate license, as well as finish his Finance degree, in the fcoming years. Since 2013 he has been well equipped with the knowledge as a first responder, training to be prepared in case of emergencies. His hobbies include art, fitness, computers, and studying linguistics. Over the years he has picked up a few other skills such as professional dog training. With an open mind and a willingness to better himself everyday, Juan understands that we all learn differently. He is patient and has the aptitude to adapt and make sure his students learn the laws of the road.

Brett Looney – Los Angeles County/Ventura County Instructor

Brett is currently a part time college student looking to further his education in the field of animation. He has a passion for health, meditation and yoga. He is a fully qualified driving instructor, certified by the State of California. He aspires to create a relaxed, calm learning environment for his students.

Mike Roberts – Los Angeles County/Ventura County Instructor

Mike is University of Kentucky graduate where he earned a bachelors degree in telecommunications and minored in music. In 2008 he moved to Los Angeles California to pursue a career in music. That pursuit landed him numerous performances with bands all over California and many other locations. Over the years he’s also taught private music instruction to students of all ages and skill sets. That experience would prove valuable to him in landing another teaching job. In 2016 Mike added driving instructor to his resume when Kris Kluis recruited him to work for There he honed his skills and gained vital experience that helped shape his calm and sensible approach to behind the wheel instruction. Outside of teaching, Mike maintains a busy schedule as a gigging musician. He’s married, has a daughter, and enjoys spending time with his family.

Ed Hovhannisyan – Los Angeles County/Ventura County Instructor

Ed was born and raised in Armenia, where he served two years in the military. Afterwards, he attended Yerevan State University to major in genetics. Upon moving to America, however, his passion for cars and desire to teach others motivated him to work as a driving instructor. Ed previously worked for He is a calm and collected instructor who incorporates a positive attitude and light-hearted humor into his teaching sessions. Further, Ed is both patient and understanding. He prioritizes his students’ learning by tailoring sessions to meet the educational needs of the individual. On top of this, Ed has 34 years of driving experience himself, making him a master in the art of driving. Outside of his work, Ed enjoys spending time with his three children and one dog. His hobbies include fishing, playing the bass, sculpting, and making barbecue.

Robert Lam – Los Angeles County/Ventura County Instructor

Robert has over 20 years experience working with youth programs in teaching and coaching environments and has been a licensed driving instructor for over 5 years. He started his driving instructor career with AAA as one of their top instructors averaging over 1000 hours of in-car training per year for students ages ranging from 15 1/2 all the way up to 92 years of age. He is very patient and takes a calm and positive approach with students to help develop skills and awareness to become safer drivers. Outside of work, his interests include reading, meditation and watching NBA basketball.

Kris Kluis – North County, San Diego Instructor

Kris was born and raised in southwestern Minnesota. He then obtained a degree in Marketing (Professional Tennis Management) from Ferris State University in Michigan. Chasing the warmer climate, he worked in all aspects of the tennis industry in Arizona and eventually moved to the San Diego area. In 2011, he became a driving school instructor for With expansion, he was chosen to open up new markets for From 2013 through 2019 he was the Assistant Regional Manager of Operations mainly focusing on recruiting and training new driving instructors. He is married, a father to one son, and enjoys spending time with family doing many outdoor activities.

Jose Prado – North County, San Diego Instructor (Speaks English and Spanish)

Jose has been a licensed driving instructor for two years. He became one of the youngest instructors in California when started giving driving lessons at His experience has taught him that every student has unique needs; that is why he strives to provide patience and flexibility in his teaching practices. He considers himself a laid back, approachable person and seeks to provide a comfortable atmosphere to best support his students’ learning experience. His personality and demeanor make him an ideal instructor for first time drivers and students at all skill levels. Jose enjoys helping others and doing things he is passionate about. His favorite pastimes include working on his car, going to car shows, and talking about cars. He has been living in San Diego for the last year with his girlfriend and their dog. When he’s not doing car stuff, he is most likely out trying new foods, driving around with his car top down or taking his pup to the beach.

Julianna Benefield – North County, San Diego County Instructor

Julianna was born in Oceanside, California and raised in South Carolina. She has been living in San Diego since 2015. She has over 6 years experience teaching wellness groups and rehabilitation exercise therapy. She is currently teaching massage at a local college in San Diego while running a small massage business. Julianna is extroverted and enjoys meeting new people. She radiates a calm and kind demeanor with every situation she encounters. In her free time, she enjoys rollerblading on the boardwalk, playing sports, listening to music, and creating her own music. She lives with her brother, Paul, and three hilarious house cats.

Steve Verret – North County, San Diego Instructor

For the past 25 years, Steve has taught traffic safety in an upbeat, caring and easy-to-understand manner. From 1989 until 2015, he was the lead instructor and trainer for one of America’s most popular traffic schools, the Improv Traffic School, while at the same time performing as a featured comedian at the Improv Comedy Club in Los Angeles. Steve soon became known as, “America’s Favorite Traffic Safety Teacher” and was featured in People magazine, the L.A. Times, the New York Times, Evening at the Improv, and on a PBS series featuring people with unique jobs. In 2008, Steve was selected and contracted by the U.S. Department of Defense to teach safe driving to service members and first responders of the armed forces throughout the United States and Japan. To date, he has trained over 500,000 military personnel and civilians with his 90-minute show, which blends clean humor with a strong emphasis on driving safety topics including distracted driving, driving under the influence, good seeing habits and defensive driving. Steve now lives in San Marcos with his wife and two teen daughters and when he is not traveling to military bases, he spends time volunteering as a youth softball coach, producing family entertainment events called, “Clean Comedy Live!” and compassionately teaching safe driving to Cantor’s Driving School students.

Michael Laughbalm – North County, San Diego Instructor

Michael is an experienced teacher in two subjects – driving and music. For over ten years, Michael taught hundreds of students as a Certified Traffic Violator School instructor, explaining the do’s and don’ts of driving safety at the Improv Comedy Traffic School in San Diego. For the past 30+ years, Michael has been teaching young people throughout San Diego County the art of making music. After graduating from college with a degree in music, Michael played for various bands and music venues and mastered multiple instruments. He then began a rewarding career in teaching others through music instruction. He currently teaches for the Buzzy Mae Academy in Riverside and California Music Studios. Michael’s style of teaching is calm, friendly and caring. With so much experience in effectively teaching both driving and music, Michael decided use his enthusiasm for helping others at Cantor’s Driving School. “Hey Michael, I passed my DMV test!” is currently “music” to his ears!

Mani Namazi – Orange County Instructor

Mani has been in the driving school industry for 11 years. For the past 7 years, he was a master driving instructor for, trained and guided by Cantor’s Driving School Director of Operations Hale Gammill. He has trained thousands of driving students in Southern California, trained other instructors, and done marketing at school assemblies too. Mani is a former owner/operator and instructor for Safety 1st Driving School. He’s a very patient and detailed instructor, trained to help adults, teenagers, senior citizens to become safe, defensive drivers. He has been attending the Driving School Association of California (DSAC) continuing education programs for the past 11 years, making sure he has the latest information and keeping his instructor skills sharp.

Elia Perez – East Los Angeles County Instructor (Speaks English and Spanish)

Elia was born and raised in the city of Long Beach, graduated high school in 2013, and is currently a part time college student. For the past 4 years she as been in the auto insurance business, working with customers to respond to questions regarding claims, policies, and insurance coverage. She has also worked training new co-workers, as well as performing manager duties. She has previous experience in waitressing and volunteering at an animal hospital. In her free time she loves to spend time with husband, family and dog. She aspire to learn from every opportunity and teach with patience and a great attitude.

Employment for Driving Instructors

Cantor’s Driving School is always looking for good driving instructors. Call us at 310-910-9070 to inquire about current opportunities, or send an email with your resume to