Teachers across North Carolina are speaking out against teacher pay by sharing their personal stories. Most teachers work two jobs in order to sustain a paycheck that supports them. These teachers are forced to wake up in the early hours of the morning, spend an entire day at school and go to multiple part-time jobs after working at school all day.
Shannon Davis is no stranger to hard work.
She’s up at 5:15 and in bed by 11:30 most nights, but for the past two years, it’s what she fills that time with that makes her so tired.
By day, she’s a teacher at Candler Elementary, but by night, she’s a waitress at Black Bear Cafe in Canton.
Three days a week, she spends a full day in the classroom, changes clothes at school, drives a half hour straight to the restaurant and works until close.
“Then I go home and do things around the house, whether it’s I need to go to the grocery store, wash clothes, spend time with my children, whatever, just normal basic things at home,” said Davis.
This schedule isn’t by choice but by necessity.
As a third year teacher in the state of North Carolina who doesn’t receive any supplements from the district, she says her pay is right on track with the base salary schedule for teachers with a bachelor’s degree for the 2016-2017 school year.
That means she makes right around $36,000 a year. That’s nearly $14,000 below the state average which sits at $49,837, according to the Department of Public Instruction.
The National Education Association puts the national average for teacher pay a little under $59,000 a year. But the North Carolina state average is about $9,000 below that average, improving the state ranking from 41st to an estimated 35th in the country when it comes to teacher pay.
But then there’s Ms. Davis, with three years experience, a bachelor’s degree, but no supplements.
As a single parent to two girls, one in college, the other in high school, Davis says it’s hard to make ends meet, especially only getting paid ten months out of the year.
“It’s frustrating and sometimes it’s discouraging, but you just get through and go on,” said Davis.
News 13 found a number of teachers in both the Buncombe County Schools and Asheville City Schools systems work second jobs, everything from waitressing and bartending to catering and tutoring, but it’s not unique to Western North Carolina.
The most recent study from the National Center for Education Statistics found roughly one in four North Carolina teachers work a second job.
That gives the Tar Heel State the third-highest rate in the country for teachers working second jobs.
Davis got a late start, first getting her degree in Marketing Management, then becoming a stay-at-home mom for 11 years before making the switch to teaching.
“When I look at retirement, of course, I wish I had come sooner, not because I want to retire. Just because the time you had built up does make a difference financially,” said Davis.
In addition to teaching at Isaac Dickson Elementary, Kelly Kanelos is also a server at Vue 1913 inside the Grove Park Inn.
During the school year, she typically works Saturdays after school but picks up more shifts when summer begins.