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Because teachers get three months off from classroom instruction every summer, some people believe that, during that time, most of them simply prop their feet up and relax. But that’s not the case, according to Flagler County Educators Association President Katie Hanson.
“A lot of teachers are taking second jobs to make ends meet,” she said.
And those second jobs can vary greatly in type, from stocking shelves at Books-A-Million or Target to waiting at local restaurants and bars. Others teach summer school, become camp counselors or offer in-home tutoring. Some go into manual labor.
In the past, Hanson, herself, says she has helped out at her husband’s furniture store, in Bunnell.
“The pay stops,” she said of teachers’ salary structure. “We don’t get any money over the summer. … We go basically all of June, July and August without a paycheck.”
Every teacher, Hanson added, has two payment options: They can either get 22 full checks biweekly throughout the school year, or opt for 26 slightly smaller checks, still biweekly but with an amount withheld from each, which is paid back in a four-check lump sum at the end of the year.
“I know of people who are mowing lawns this summer,” she added. “A lot of it is retail work or waitressing.”
But without an internal system in place to connect out-of-school teachers with short-term job opportunities (aside from avenues like coaching or drivers education), some teachers have to get a little more creative.
“A lot of them are coming up with business ideas to help supplement their income,” Hanson added, citing teachers like Heather Doutrick and Ed Tutac, who recently opened their own companies — The Hot Yoga Lounge and Grace’s Place Bagels and Deli, respectively.
Some are even selling old teaching supplies on sites like eBay or Swip Swap to bring in extra cash.
“We get a lump sum, but it’s never enough to really make it,” said Jackie Ricks, seven-year kindergarten teacher who makes and decorates cakes during school’s off season. “So it’s always nice to have that extra job to make up for what’s missing.”
Although Ricks admits that she started decorating cakes more for fun than out of necessity, she’s found that having an extra bit of “found money” in her pocket has allowed her to take an extra trip or two throughout the year that she otherwise would have had to forgo.
Specializing in themed fondant cakes, Ricks calls herself a “perfectionist.” She recently made an Angry Birds-themed cake that took her about 15 hours. But most projects, whether it’s a wedding, birthday or University of Florida Gator cake, take her closer to four to five hours.
“It’s just creative,” she said. “It’s not something you’re going to find in Publix or Walmart.”
For other teachers, though, their summer free time is used for longer-range saving. Brandon Champion, a 17-year high school history teacher, for example, plans to use the extra money he makes from window washing for his 4-year-old son’s future college tuition, as well as a second retirement home in Maine.
“What I do is, I get all of that money that I get (from the school in a lump at year’s end) and I put it in a savings account, and every two weeks, I pay myself,” Champion said. “So I never get off track. I never feel like I’ve lost a paycheck.”
In fact, he added, being that those four summer checks are all free from insurance deductions, Champion’s pay during the summer months equals to about $200 more per check than it does during his regular pay cycle.
“It’s all about the routine,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing. It’s being disciplined. It’s being disciplined and not dipping into that money that you have that should last you through the summer.”
Washing the windows and power-washing the exteriors of homes and commercial spaces in Flagler, with fellow teacher David Hartley, Champion tacks on close to 20 additional work hours every week throughout the year. And he’ll even do landscaping if it means a paycheck. Because the extra work isn’t just for hunting or starting a family anymore; it has transformed into one of his primary means for building a nest egg, and to get a jump on his son, Nathan’s, education.
“You have to be diverse in what you do to keep yourself busy,” he said. “The long-term goal is to be able to live a better lifestyle up the road.”
That’s exactly why Eileen Curran, a 25-year P.E. and first-grade teacher, works a second, and sometimes third, job.
“I’ve always had to work two jobs,” she said. “I’m a single mom with two kids … (Working extra allowed me) to keep my job and not have to move up north and move back in with my mother.”
Currently a year-round instructor at Anytime Fitness, Curran began holding multiple positions in Flagler County in 1987, teaching and running an Adult Education summer gymnastics program on the side, and she hasn’t stopped. Gymnastics led to working other camp programs, then teaching at the Flagler School of Dance for 10 years, which led to her job at Anytime.
What started purely out of necessity, though — Curran needed two jobs in order to afford day care — has turned into a full, new lifestyle, and a view of the world Curran hopes to pass down to her children.
“I kind of evolved into a physical education person,” she said. “I figured, if you learn to do this and be the teacher … you have to show up. You have to stay healthy. You have to stay fit. … You can’t just stay at home and watch ‘Judge Judy.’”
Curran went back to school to get state certified in health and physical education. She never once applied for any sort of financial aid. She supported her kids, without a single handout, and that’s exactly how she likes it.
“I’ve worked hard my whole life,” she said. “Any extra money I have, I help my sons through school. … And I find that I love that. (The work) benefits me because I stay healthy. I feel like a million bucks when I get out.”
But, even with the extra hours, making ends meet was hardly easy. Her children never had cable growing up. Curran drove an old station wagon. They didn’t eat out. Because it was free, they were always at the library. And she always packed her boys peanut butter-and-jelly lunches.
“But, you know what? We survived,” Curran said. “These children were mine, and I was perfectly capable of supporting them.”
Her proudest moment, though, came one day when a friend of her oldest son told her how her son brags about her having never stopped working, and always being there, and never relying on others.
The fact that her son not only noticed but told others about her efforts left her nearly speechless.
“What I’ve done over the years, and worked so hard — it makes a difference,” she said. “And that’s what we’re supposed to pass on to our kids — working hard. … I’m able to help my kids out and that gives me great joy, because I’ve devoted my life to my kids, and I love to do it. That’s why I work. I work for my kids. I love my kids.”
Contact Mike Cavaliere at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Currently 1 Response
- My husband (who is a teacher) also has 3 other jobs (he calls his teaching a calling ).he never complains. He just says '' you know going in to teaching your going to need 2 or 3 jobs''------His best line when we are out in public and people say " must be nice having summers off ? ''is " yea, I have one of those teacher mortgages,the bank lets me go 2 months without paying !!-----and people actually beleive him !
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