One in five American teachers now works a second job on top of full-time teaching. Photographer Peter Rad captures what happens when they leave the classroom

Tracey Deegan, 53
Cape Cod, Massachusetts


Full-time job Elementary school teacher. Earns $80,000 annually
Second job Oyster farmer. Earns $15 an hour. Also works as an event coordinator and manager for a catering company

Tracey
Tracey Deegan: Ive missed a lot of things because of all the jobs I do. Photograph: Peter Rad for Guardian US

When I say my salary it sounds like a lot of money, but I live on Cape Cod. Someone has to be here to teach the kids.

When I think about things like the fact we need a new septic system, or that we need to replace some doors and the deck on my house, I go into almost like a panic attack. I dont have a reserve of money for that and I dont want to dip into my future. I feel all the time that pressure to not even just get ahead, but to keep my head above water. Ive missed a lot of things because of all the jobs I do.


Chris Williams, 36
Houston, Texas


Full-time job High school history teacher. Earns $56,149 annually
Second job Bookseller at Barnes & Noble. Earns $11.75 an hour. Works 20 hours a week

Chris
Chris Williams: Our district does not value experienced teachers. Photograph: Peter Rad for Guardian US

Working a second job, and the lack of rest that comes with that, makes it really hard to do the most important thing that a teacher does: remain engaged and enthusiastic, and really be the driving force in a classroom. The second challenge is that every year, students come to me with ideas for organizations they would like to start, clubs they would like to be involved in, and some of those things match up really well with some of my own passions.

But when I weigh the additional amount of money that I need for my second job against my inclination, it doesnt make sense.

When you consider a teacher with zero experience versus a teacher like me with now 11 years behind me, theres only a $3,619 difference in our salary. That signals to me that our district does not value experienced teachers. If I didnt work a second job, I would be a risk for not having funds to deal with major financial problems that could occur in anyones life, whether thats a major medical expense, a major car expense, or a family emergency.


Jeanna Dorsey, 52
Tulsa, Oklahoma


Full-time job Middle school social studies teacher. Earns $49,000 annually
Second job Suite-level attendant at the sports stadium for the Tulsa Roughnecks and Drillers on nights and weekends. Escorts people to seats and takes tickets. Earns $8.75 an hour

Jeanna
Jeanna Dorsey: You need that extra money to get the bills paid. Photograph: Peter Rad for Guardian US

The hardest thing is when you give your all at school, your main job and then you come home and you have to change clothes and change your mindset. Then you have to go to your second job and youre tired. You still have to find that extra strength to go on because you know you still need that extra money to get those bills paid.


Matthew Williams, 31
Tulsa, Oklahoma


Full-time job High school US history and geography teacher. Earns $35,000 annually
Second job Uber driver. Earns between $100 and $400 a week

Matthew
Matthew Williams: I tell them Im a teacher and Im immediately treated with sympathy. Photograph: Peter Rad for Guardian US

I moved back in with my parents just because I was tired of living paycheck to paycheck. Its really hard to think about my own livelihood in the midst of trying to teach 115 teenagers. I should only have to care about their development, but I also have in my head, I dont know how Im going to pay this months rent. I absolutely love what I do and I want to continue doing this and I dont want to do anything else, but I cant keep living with my parents to save money.

I see November as a pivotal moment for my future. The last increase we really saw in raises and school funding has been 20-odd years, and if its going to be that rate again, at the current rate of inflation, I will be living in poverty. Weve got teachers on food stamps. Its insane.

What typically goes through my mind [when Uber driving] is I hope I get some passengers that are easy to deal with that arent going to be too difficult or drunk or whatever. Whats kind of interesting or sad is I tell them Im a teacher and Im immediately treated with sympathy. I typically get better tips. So Im like a charity case.


Courtney Haney, 25
Houston, Texas


Full-time job Middle school science teacher. Earns $58,000 annually
Second job Dance instructor and choreographer at Living Lines dance studio. Teaches ballet and hip-hop. Works 12 hours a week. Earns $38 an hour plus performances

Courtney
Courtney Haney: There are times when Im just so tired I think my body cant take it any more. Photograph: Peter Rad for Guardian US

The most stressful thing is that I go home and worry about those kids, whether I like it or not, so it kind of wears me down. I use my lunch breaks often times to make choreography or to make lessons for that evening. Sometimes thats what my weekends are devoted to also. Social life? Whats that? And sometimes even my personal health is at risk. Its hard to eat lunch when youve got so many different things going on.

Theres times where I have to talk to myself in the mirror and tell myself: Its OK, you can get through this. I know youre exhausted, but itll be all right. And I get my second wind eventually. I get that adrenaline boost that I need to keep teaching. But there are times when Im just so tired and my body is making me think that it cant take it any more.


Meghan McMillan, 38
Houston, Texas


Full-time job High school freshman leadership teacher. Earns $51,000 annually
Second job Dog trainer at PetSmart. Earns $9.25 an hour plus 20% commission for classes. Works 12-15 hours a week

Meghan
Meghan McMillan: I needed the extra money to pay my bills. Photograph: Peter Rad for Guardian US

I try and leave school a little bit earlier than normal when Im working just so I can have some extra time. When I go home I have to take care of my dogs first: I have to change clothes and I have to eat dinner because I dont get home from PetSmart until 9.30pm and Im not eating dinner at 9.30 at night. The hardest part is just managing stress.

The reason I took a second job is that I have some debt that Im trying to pay off. I needed the extra money to pay my bills. I was struggling with just the teaching income and this makes it so that I dont have to struggle financially. I can live on my wage, but Im single and have no kids. Theres a lot of teachers who are single parents who are really struggling.


Brian Davis, 46
Bartlesville, Oklahoma


Full-time job Middle school geography teacher. Earns $42,000 annually
Second job Private softball coach. Earns $25 per lesson. Also an Uber driver

Brian
Brian Davis: Ill probably continue my side jobs through at least my kids going to college. Photograph: Peter Rad for Guardian US

We use the envelope system a little bit. This weeks softball lesson would go into an envelope for the tire fund. Or this weeks lesson, half of it would go for car maintenance.

I will probably continue my side jobs through at least my kids going to college. Weve accumulated some debt over the years, because when you need tires, you just put down the credit card. When the washing machine goes out, you put it on the credit card. Were going to be catching up from that for years. Ive got a car thats pushing 200,000 miles and another car thats pushing 100,000 and weve got a girl going off to college next year. We havent contributed to our IRAs in about three years, maybe even longer than that.


Metasha Olson, 45
Bartlesville, Oklahoma


Full-time job Middle school english teacher. Earns $40,600 annually
Second job School bus driver. Earns $17.60 an hour. Works 10 hours a week

Metasha
Metasha Olson: The teacher shouldnt have to drive a bus. Photograph: Peter Rad for Guardian US

The teacher shouldnt have to drive a bus. I dont get to stay after school to help my students for even five minutes if they have a question. Sometimes I feel like Im letting my students down because I have to go directly to my bus. I dont even get to stop for a bathroom break.

Without my second job, we flat out cannot make our bills. Even with my second job, we struggle to make the bills, without even adding on the food or extras that my kids want.

5 COMMENTS

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