‘Some­times, I just have to do it’

Teach­ers strug­gle with work­ing sec­ond jobs to boost in­come


OK­LA­HOMA CITY | 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 per­cent of teach­ers work jobs out­side school, sup­ple­ment­ing the av­er­age full­time teacher salary of $55,100 by an av­er­age of $5,100, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est sur­vey from the U.S. Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment, from the 2015-2016 school year. That is up slightly from 16 per­cent in 2011-2012.

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 first-graders 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,” she said, “be­cause work­ing with first grade all day, I tend to lose my en­ergy pretty fast.”

Ms. 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. Lyft driver

As Lyft driver Ste­fanie Lowe criss­crosses 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 Ms. 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.

Re­tail worker

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 spe­cial-ed­u­ca­tion 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. Pho­tog­ra­pher

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 Ms. 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.”

Ms. 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.


Melinda Dale (left) joins other Oo­la­gah, Ok­la­homa, teach­ers at a school fund­ing protest. Ms. Dale works as a jan­i­tor at the same school build­ing af­ter teach­ing first-graders all day.

Ste­fanie Lowe earns just under $37,000 as a first-grade teacher, and drives for Lyft on nights and week­ends. “It’s su­per busy to drive dur­ing the week, but some­times I just have to do it,” she said.

“Thirty-two years, I have to have a sec­ond job,” said teacher Christi Phillips, who keeps a sec­ond ca­reer as a chil­dren’s pho­tog­ra­pher. “Isn’t that sad? That’s very sad.”

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