Hun­dreds of thou­sands of Amer­i­can school­teach­ers work sec­ond jobs to boost their in­come. They speak of miss­ing time with fam­ily, strug­gles to com­plete les­son plans and nag­ging doubts over whether it’s worth the sac­ri­fices to stay in their pro­fes­sion.

Na­tion­wide, 18 per cent of teach­ers work jobs out­side school, sup­ple­ment­ing the av­er­age full-time teacher salary of $55,100 by an av­er­age of $5,100, (All fig­ures U.S.) ac­cord­ing to the lat­est sur­vey from the U.S. Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment, from the 2015-2016 school year. That is up slightly from 16 per cent in 20112012.

Teach­ing is hardly the only pro­fes­sion where peo­ple pick up sec­ond jobs to pay their bills, and many have the flex­i­bil­ity to do other work in the sum­mer when school is out. But their num­bers help ex­plain the out­rage be­hind the teacher re­volts in states in­clud­ing West Vir­ginia, Ok­la­homa and Ken­tucky.

The As­so­ci­ated Press asked moon­light­ing teach­ers in four states to de­scribe how they bal­ance the ex­tra hours with their day jobs and fam­ily re­spon­si­bil­i­ties:


Af­ter a day of in­struct­ing first­graders at Oolo­gah-Talala Pub­lic Schools in Ok­la­homa, Melinda Dale puts on a jan­i­tor’s uni­form and be­gins clean­ing the very same school build­ing.

“I usu­ally do it right af­ter school,” Dale said, “be­cause work­ing with first grade all day, I tend to lose my en­ergy pretty fast.”

Dale, who has taught for six years, earns $32,000 a year as a teacher. She spends about 15 hours a week on the jan­i­to­rial work, which at $10 an hour al­lows her to earn nearly a quar­ter of what she makes teach­ing.

She is try­ing to save money for col­lege for the old­est of her three chil­dren, a high school se­nior. Her youngest, a first-grader, has to wait for Dale to fin­ish clean­ing be­fore she can go home, but some­times other fam­ily mem­bers help with the clean­ing so she can leave sooner and spend time with her kids.

Her sec­ond job forces her to do les­son plans on the week­end, usu­ally on Sun­days af­ter church and lunch with her fam­ily.

One day, her sev­enth-grade daugh­ter was wait­ing in the car for her mother and said: “I’m sorry it’s come to this, mom.”

“It was a very heart­warm­ing but sad mo­ment to hear her say those words,” Dale said.

“I’ll do what­ever it takes to be in the ca­reer that I’m in, but also pro­vide for them.”


As Lyft driver Ste­fanie Lowe criss-crosses the metro Phoenix area in her Jeep, many of her pas­sen­gers are sur­prised to learn that she is also a full-time teacher.

“It’s su­per busy to drive dur­ing the week, but some­times I just have to do it,” said Lowe, 28.

She earns just under $37,000 as a first-grade teacher at Tus­cano El­e­men­tary School. She rents a room, in­stead of hav­ing her own apart­ment, to keep her hous­ing costs down, but to make ends meet she drives for Lyft on nights and week­ends and also picks up tu­tor­ing jobs. She drives more dur­ing the week when she has up­com­ing ex­penses like a car reg­is­tra­tion pay­ment, med­i­cal bills or sup­plies for her class­room.

By 7 a.m. the next school day, she’s back at her class­room. With 32 stu­dents, the class de­mands her full at­ten­tion. But Lowe is com­mit­ted to im­prov­ing her stu­dents’ lives.

“These kids are go­ing to be tak­ing care of you when you’re older,” she said. “Let’s ed­u­cate them; let’s make them the best peo­ple that they can be.”

Lowe left a job in health care in Penn­syl­va­nia to teach in Ari­zona, where the sign­ing bonus from her first job at a low-in­come Tuc­sonarea school went en­tirely to­ward ma­te­ri­als for her class­room.

At times, she has con­sid­ered pur­su­ing a dif­fer­ent ca­reer, but for now she is ded­i­cated to teach­ing.

“I went to school for this to be my ca­reer,” Lowe said, “not so I could work three jobs just to be able to af­ford to go to the doc­tor.”


John An­dros knows the drill well af­ter more than a decade of dou­ble duty teach­ing high school and then work­ing at Dick’s Sport­ing Goods. He packs lunch and din­ner, puts an ex­tra set of clothes in the car for his re­tail job, and sets off know­ing he won’t be home be­fore his daugh­ters go to bed.

There was a time ear­lier in his ca­reer, when he was mak­ing less than $40,000 teach­ing, when he con­sid­ered giv­ing it up to pur­sue a man­age­ment job at Dick’s that would pay over $50,000.

Now in his 19th year of teach­ing, with two master’s de­grees, he has reached top scale — $88,000 an­nu­ally — as a spe­ciale­d­u­ca­tion teacher at Plainville High School in Con­necti­cut. But he still works 15 hours a week at Dick’s and tu­tors be­cause he feels like he’s still catch­ing up fi­nan­cially af­ter years of much lower earn­ings in an area with high prop­erty taxes and a high cost of liv­ing.

He paid off his col­lege loans three years ago, and he and his wife only re­cently got out from a re­quire­ment to pay mort­gage in­sur­ance be­cause they didn’t have enough for a full down pay­ment when they bought their house.

“I be­came a teacher be­cause I fig­ured I’d get home and get my kids off the bus and do all these things. I never thought in a mil­lion years I would still be work­ing so much. This was sup­posed to be a two-, maybe three-year thing. Fi­nan­cially it never worked out,” said An­dros, whose wife works part-time as a health aide.

He makes a point to stay home with his daugh­ters at least two week­nights, but as he looks to build up col­lege sav­ings for them, he frets over the vol­ley­ball and field hockey events he misses.

“I love what I do. The kids haven’t changed. That part of it hasn’t changed. But my daugh­ters ask me all the time, ‘What do you think of me be­com­ing a teacher?’ ” he said. “It’s a tough ques­tion to an­swer.”


De­spite more than three decades of teach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, Christi Phillips keeps up her long­time sec­ond ca­reer as a chil­dren’s pho­tog­ra­pher. She en­joys work­ing both jobs, but she feels like she doesn’t re­ally have a choice.

“Thirty-two years, I have to have a sec­ond job,” said Phillips, who teaches first grade at Ge­orge Ward El­e­men­tary School in Mill Creek, West Vir­ginia. “Isn’t that sad? That’s very sad. Ev­ery­body I know has two or three.”

Phillips makes $52,000 teach­ing. That’s enough, she says, for her util­i­ties and a car pay­ment. The money from the sec­ond job is needed if she and her hus­band want to eat out at a nice restau­rant, buy a sec­ond a ve­hi­cle or take a va­ca­tion.

“I can scrape by. I can make do on my salary if I just want to pay bills. That’s it,” Phillips said. “If I want to live, if I want to do any real liv­ing, I can’t do it on my salary.”

West Vir­ginia teach­ers, who rank among the na­tion’s low­est paid, re­ceived a five per cent raise af­ter a statewide strike in Fe­bru­ary. It set the stage for teacher protests in other states.

“A lot of peo­ple think, ‘Woo, you make tons of money,’ ” Phillips said. “If you com­pare my salary to maybe some­body who works in fast food, I do. But if you com­pare my salary to some­body who works, say, at our lo­cal hard­wood plant here, not so great. There’s peo­ple there prob­a­bly mak­ing as much as I am with­out the ed­u­ca­tion, with­out the years of ser­vice.”


Ste­fanie Lowe, a Phoenix-area teacher, stands next to her car in the park­ing lot af­ter join­ing other teach­ers, par­ents and stu­dents as they stage a “walk-in” for higher pay. To help make ends meet, Lowe works as a Lyft driver to sup­ple­ment her teach­ing...


De­spite more than three decades of teach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, Christi Phillips keeps up her long­time sec­ond ca­reer as a chil­dren’s pho­tog­ra­pher in West Vir­ginia.


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