Monday, January 14, 2008

Full-Time Teacher, Weekend Cook: Part-Time Jobs To Pay Bills

One teacher in Missouri has a full agenda. On weekdays, Joel Chaky is a middle and high school social studies teacher. But on weekends and evenings, he works at a restaurant as a cook.
His work schedule was outlined in a recent Associated Press article by reporter David Lieb:

"To make ends meet for a family of seven, Chaky cannot afford to focus solely on teaching -- not when he's earning Missouri's minimum teacher salary of $23,000 annually."

The poor pay scale of teachers -- in Missouri and throughout the country -- is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. My parents are retired educators; my brother has taught in the metro DC area and I have taught journalism classes to high school students.
During my childhood, for example, my father worked several part-time jobs, while working as a teacher. He worked in a grocery store, a ship dock, a nightclub, a mall boutique and at a high-end restaurant, while teaching during the day. In fact, on one occasion, some of his friends showed up at the restaurant where he worked and were actually assigned to his table. Awkward! Nevertheless, my dad served them with a smile.
In my upcoming book, The Frugal Duchess of South Beach, I've written stories about my parents and their after-hours employment efforts. In a past post, I've outlined how my father juggled his work schedule: How to Make a Part-Time Job Work: Tips from My Dad.

The bottom line report: Teachers deserve higher pay.

Frankly, it's hard work. I loved my students and they were great. But I was so exhausted after teaching just two classes a day for one semester. I don't know how full-time teachers pull it off.

Teaching demands the following skills:

1. Planning. Kids have a nose for unprepared teachers. They just know when you are making up the lesson as you go along. You may not be able to connect the dots, but they sure can!

2. Entertainer: You have to be able to present the material in an engaging fashion. You have to make the lesson jump from the page and into their hearts. It helps if you are a great story teller, a comedian, a visual artist or a singer.

3. Disciplinarian: You have to maintain control of the classroom. They have to respect you, the rules and each other.

4. Educator: Oh! You also have to teach and inform.

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Previous Posts
Four Millionaire Moms Tell Their Secrets
Weekly Reading: My Favorite Links
My Teenage Son Paid Me 16 Cents To Clean His Room
Kiplinger’s: Tips for Retiring Rich: A Guest Post

Sharon Harvey Rosenberg is the author of The Frugal Duchess of South Beach: How to Live Well and Save Money... Anywhere! , which will be published in the Spring of 2008 by DPL Press.



atregembo said...

I can totally relate to your post and it is well appreciated to read. I taught for 7 years and am now on a 4-5 year break to stay home with my girls. One thing that made me the most angry was the amount of education we had to have and the amount of pay we got. In any other industry we would be making twice the pay based on our education level. Here in CA you have to have a 4 year degree plus an additional 2 years for your teaching credential. Not to mention we have to continue with our education to keep our credentials current and have to pay for all of our classes as well!

Chief Family Officer said...

As the daughter and niece of teachers, I completely agree with you that teachers are underpaid! And I think that a big key to improving public education is to pay teachers more. But what also bothered me about the article you mentioned was that the teacher profiled apparently has five kids ("family of seven"). I realize that family planning is a sensitive topic, but I feel that if you are going to bring children into the world, you need to be financially able to take care of them - and I'm afraid that's something people don't think enough about when they decide to have kids.

Frugal Duchess said...

@atregembo: You're right about the cost of ongoing education for teachers. I had not even thought about that point.
I appreciate your comments.

@ CFO:
I hear you, but at least he's grounded in reality and has taken a second job to support that large family.

But even if they only had one child, it would be hard to make ends meet on such low wages.

Thanks so much for leaving me comments. I really, really appreciate your visits.

Chief Family Officer said...

Sharon, you're absolutely right, his salary is ridiculously low no matter the circumstances. And I do respect him for doing what he has to do to support his family. It's just that the family planning aspect is almost always overlooked in articles about not being able to make ends meet, and that drives me nuts!

And thanks right back at ya, I love The Frugal Duchess!

Ideapreneur said...

No matter how much we believe teachers are waaay underpaid, it seems that very little has changed. Why is that? Why is it taking so long to increase teachers pay?

I think that some teachers should take a stronger initiative and at least try "entrepreneurship" instead of getting a 2nd job. Maybe focusing on building a part-time business that generates "passive" and potentially full-time income might be the way to go. Waiting on politicians, Dept. of Ed, and the government is not the answer.

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