My Teacher, My Waitress

“They only work 9 months out of the year.”

“They have vacations all the time.”

“They make plenty of money for people who work so little.”

“If you divide their salary by the 9 months they work instead of 12, they actually make plenty of money.”

“I don’t get to take time off without pay so teachers shouldn’t either.”

A sampling of a few uneducated and ridiculous statements about educators and that doesn’t include the rudest comments. These are the same people we entrust with more than 900,000 children in Colorado. They pay for snacks, lunches, books, school supplies, paper, tissues, and even fees for children out of their own pockets and we’ve already shown are some of the lowest paid in the nation.


Since Colorado has ranked 2nd for return on educational investment, we really ought to be celebrating the success of schools (educators!) doing more with less for so many years!

So, what are all of those “lazy teachers” up to when they aren’t in a classroom with 30 kids or grading papers or doing lesson plans?

Well, several are working second and third jobs. Unless they’ve been lucky enough to marry well and their spouse makes enough to support a career in education as philanthropy! (Can you even believe that’s a thing for a professional in 2018?) Here it is, in their words:

  • For 10 years I delivered newspapers before school. Luckily I don’t have to do that anymore. Now I work for CSU after school. My wife, who is also a teacher, also works for CSU after school. For several years prior to this year, she also worked for PBS doing Homework Hotline. Additionally, we work at various school sporting events being score keepers and event managers for the meager pay those jobs get.
  • Last year I was a freelance tutor and a full time nanny. The year before that I worked at an “amusement park.”
  • I work at a grocery store twice per week in addition to tutoring after school one day per week. I have to keep those jobs to make ends meet, because rent + student loans + my car payment = 74% of my take home pay, and bills take up another 11%. It’s really hard to survive off of 15% of your take home pay, especially in this economy.
  •  I’m a barista in the summer and holiday breaks. I also occasionally tutor for cash, and I do every market research opportunity I can get accepted for for a little extra money on the side.
  • I teach high school social studies and ref Volleyball 12-20 hours per week year around. During the summers I also do party setup and breakdowns a few times per month.
  • Over the years: clothing retail, driving range, summer camp, summer school… currently Summer Program instructor. 28 years teaching and have always needed a second job, sometimes more than one!
  • My husband works maintenance at a golf course, donates plasma, and coaches golf. I promote a nutrition and wellness company. Every penny helps! I have tutored, house-sat, and served on so many committees that offer stipends.
  • During the school year, I teach dance classes at after school programs in different districts to make more money. In the summers, I privately tutor as many hours as I can. I am a single mom of my son, and even with these extra jobs, it still doesn’t quite pay all the bills, but I still love teaching.
  • I’ve done a combo of: After school programs, summer school programs, coaching and always a job at a resort, currently at the ice rink year round.
  • We rent out our basement room, work during the summer to supplement our income. (My husband is also a teacher.)
  • In the past, I have spent evenings and weekends teaching classes for adults. Currently I work retail.
  • I also do respite care, tutoring, and singing at special church occasions.
  • Luckily my husband makes good money. Although now that I have two children I have to take time off from teaching because the cost of daycare for two kids is everything I make as a teacher. Sad that teachers can’t afford daycare and still make enough to continue working.
  • Additional school-based positions, specifically StuCo advisor, MS track and field coach, class advisor, and mentor teacher, paired with plenty of babysitting on the weekends.
  • I coached for 20 years (15 of them during my teaching career). Ten of those years I coached three different sports. I worked summer school. I have taken on paid leadership positions in my school. I also host evening PD classes for some additional money. I have been teaching for 23 years, have two college degrees, and still struggle when those unexpected expenses come up.
  • In addition to teaching 3rd grade, I am also the GT rep at my school and I babysit on the weekends. I recently bought a home through an affordable housing program, so I work two extra jobs to help pay my mortgage. Without my two extra jobs, I would not be able to afford the cost of living, my bills, and food for that matter.
  • I created and still have a soap making company. This is my 15th year being in business. It allows my family to live mostly without resorting to credit cards. I’m now working on writing and selling online courses. I believe that will be the thing that allows me to retire. I will never be able to traditionally retire, by the way. I would have to work until I’m 80.
  • I rent one of my rooms to a friend to help with expenses.
  • I currently teach orchestra full time, run a full private studio, have been in the Army for twelve years, and freelance as a bassist and conductor.
  • Lots of extra tutoring after-school and proctoring tests/Saturday school on weekends. Then over the summers I’ve done summer school or paid internships with my union!
  • I work after school as a Taekwondo instructor, earning just above minimum wage (but I like doing it). I also make extra pennies by writing curriculum.
  • When my kids aged out of my insurance I could afford to quit my second job. I am really fortunate.
  • I teach adult Spanish classes and tutor on the side. I also receive subsidized daycare from my town and live in low-income housing.
  • I have worked retail, taught at the local community college, tutored, taught at the local college, sold artwork, done graphic design for local businesses, and anything else I could snag to help make ends meet. I was a single parent who got no child support, so money was ALWAYS an issue for all the 20+ years I’ve been teaching.
  • I am a server at a restaurant in town. I love both of my jobs yet both are necessary to make ends meet!
  • I have worked doing many things – during summer I have directed summer camps, worked retail, etc. I have run clubs and after school programs (for pay) during the school year as well as retail for 3 1/2 years – closing a Petco every Friday and Saturday night during the years of Jeffco’s pay cuts. In District 50, years ago, I tutored the kids in sped who were expelled – after school 10 hours a week.
  • I was the music minister at my church, worked in a bakery, worked retail, taught private lessons, and probably some jobs I forgot…
  • I worked two jobs to afford childcare. One job paid for my children to be cared for while I worked the other job.
  • Summer school, any extra school related stuff, private tutoring, babysitting, dog walking, etc etc. Still not enough to pay the bills for a single mom in Denver.
  • I rent out part of my house. Raise Corgis, tutor sell on ebay to suppliment my teaching passion because I cannot make ends meet.
  • I’ve done contract work over the past summers and am looking for a job for the summer.
  • Up until a few years ago (and I’ve been at this 20+) I: waited tables, helped run a Theatre camp, was a carpenter’s assistant, and worked for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. It wasn’t until my wife moved into 9-5 corporate land that I could afford to ‘not work’. Now I spend summers working on my masters degree.
  • I make tutus for several local area ballet companies and studios. I get SO MUCH RESPECT for my time and products! I’m to the point where I’m considering doing that full time and quit teaching. I have the potential to make so much more. But I love education.
  • I sell essential oils. I teach people how to use them on the weekends and evenings.
  • I will be teaching summer school and working at Triple Crown Sports this summer. My husband was a teacher until I had triplets and we couldn’t afford to live on a teacher’s salary.
  • I teach 8-10 music lessons a week and I’ve been teaching extra lessons since I started in the fall of 2010 (when the pay scale froze). I also play occasional wedding and church gigs.
  • I work at Starbucks and drive for Lyft. I am currently looking for another summer job or two. As a single parent, I can barely afford my rent, and was hoping to someday buy a house, but that dream is gone. Any house I could afford would add two hours or so onto my commute, and would force my son to change schools. I’ve been a teacher for 14 years.
  • I have taught private music lessons after school along with teaching a classroom full-time. It was the only way I could pay rent and my student loans.
  •  Tutoring, Girls on the Run, extended school year, graded state assessments with Measured Progress, taught TEFL certification classes, MTSS and/or literacy liaison, rented out a room, Colorado Mountain Express and still searching for others. Doing what I can to afford living in the mountains, even though my husband works as well.
  • I mowed lawns for 10 years… I miss the extra money, but can’t work a second job and be there for my family. That shouldn’t be a choice I have to make.
  • I have taught 30 years. I cut coupons, drive an eighteen year old car, only buy clothes if on sale with an extra 40 % off, and can only afford to visit my out of state grandkids twice a year.
  • I have taught for 14 years, and have always tutored, taken on extra duties at school, and taught summer school every year. My husband works a full time job too. We are doing ok right now, but I’m topping out in the pay scale, and I worry about putting my daughter through college…
  • I work at a restaurant part time evenings and weekends.
  • I sit on 5 committees at my school, host an after school club 2 times a year, and started an event planning business all to supplement my income.
  • In addition to my classroom duties I do homebound instructing 6 hours per week, tutoring 2 hours per week (plus the prep time), and I assist with social media and photography for a tea company in Denver. I babysit and work for my dad’s sprinkler company in the summers. All of this and I still have to have government assistance for rent but now because of my extra jobs to be able to pay all of my bills I will no longer qualify starting in July…. so…. guess I need ANOTHER job too?!
  • I work at Sprouts grocery store three days a week and all summer on top of teaching full-time.
  • I work for Stadium Management Company which runs Sports authority field at Mile High. I have in the past, worked for Girl Scouts in the summer which I have been doing since I started teaching 30 years ago. I have also worked for Disney during the Christmas season. I also teach home bound students. I do all of this to help make ends meet and have a little spending.
  • I work as a receptionist in a tax office from January through April. I originally started to pay back school loans, but then…pay freeze, furlough, recession, cost of living increase. I paid off my loans four years ago, and I STILL can’t make ends meet.
  • In addition to teaching, I work on call for several caterers, do social media, design websites, petsit, and clean houses to make ends meet. I also got two summer jobs to save up for next year.
  • I think another important piece of the puzzle is childcare. Many teachers don’t work summer/second jobs because the enormous cost of childcare for our own children. Many educators are also leaving the profession to stay home because simply put, they don’t make enough to justify the amount they are paying for daycare, preschool, or before/after school care. At one point our daycare costs were more than our mortgage.
  •  My husband and I moved from Iowa to be closer to his family and for a lifestyle change. Our pay decrease plus the higher cost of housing in CO has been a struggle. We’re both full time teachers in the same district, and I teach piano lessons to make up some of the money we lost in salary. My husband teaches voice lessons, but has had a more difficult time of getting consistent students. He is looking for a steadier second job for the summer. We also rent out the bed and bathroom on our ground level to help with housing costs.
  • I work part time at a warehouse. 7:30-11:30 a night 5 nights a week. My 15 year old son babysits his two younger brothers while I’m there. I get about 5 hours of sleep or less on nights that I work at the warehouse and have to teach in the morning. Being a single mom and teacher is killing me.
  • I work on a friend’s food truck to pay for extras like trips and unexpected expenses like car repairs. Yesterday my work day lasted from 7:30 am to 10:30 pm
  • I moved from Ohio to Colorado specifically for my current job because it was the exact type of school and community I wanted to serve and was passionate about. However, I remember my first year of teaching when our district began discussing salary increases for the following year. Out of curiosity I decided to compare my current district’s salary schedule to the school district I would have been employed within had I stayed in Ohio. The difference between the two was $11,300 with Ohio paying more of course. Pair that pay difference with the significant increase in costs of living associated with moving to Colorado from the Midwest and you have a whole other set of factors to consider. That was the first time I recognized just how bad things were in Colorado compared to elsewhere.
  • I’ve done seasonal work over Winter Breaks at Bath and Body Works, and I taught summer school most summers.
  • My spouse and I both work full time jobs. My full time job teaching in a SSN classroom. I also sell real estate on the side. I had to do something because a good portion of my paycheck was going to classroom supplies like pencils, paper, expo markers, books, head phones, tissues etc. Most all of my profits from real estate end up back in my classroom in some way. I also know how difficult it is for educators, so any educators or school staff that buy/sell with me, I give them back up to $1k in my commission.
  • I’m in my 14th year of teaching and have always tutored during the school year and all summer (at least 5 students during summer.). I’ve done contract work for department of education as well. For past 4 years I have done direct sales selling jewelry but had serious foot injury so unable to do this any longer. I have a $550 student loan payment (I was on my own when I went to college so had to take student loans just to be able to survive.) Then, I obtained my Masters in special education at Regis University which was $35,000+. I would be living in a small apartment or with roommates if I wasn’t married due to the high cost of living and lack of pay commensurate with my education and experience.
  • Pay was so bad at my previous school, often times I had to choose between groceries to eat and gas to get to work. I live and work in Colorado and have a masters degree.
  • For about 5 years, early in my career pre-spouse, I was teaching full-time, tutoring twice a week, folding boxes to load housing signs, and worked over the summer just to make sure I wasn’t stuck in a bad place for money. Tough times and depressing considering I graduated and had multiple degrees. I’ll do anything for my family and if SB200 passes in current form I’m either leaving a career I love or needing to do the tri-job again, ultimately away from my family. So very sad.
  • I babysit between 3-5 nights each week. I have $310 of grad school student loans each month. And I live with a roommate to be able to live and teach near Denver.
  • I have my EdD from UC Denver My student loan payments are over $500/month. I’m almost forty and took on a job waitressing to help cover my loan payment and the cost of living in my district.
  • Our teenage daughters share a bedroom & we rent out the other 2 bedrooms as a “lock off basement apartment” to help pay for 1st their daycare as children, then to pay for activities & now to save for college. For 23 years, I have babysat for wealthy tourists in order to make ends meet & I am sure I will babysit for many more years.

“We are upset about all of it- teacher pay, attacks on our retirement, school funding shortfalls, huge amounts of standardized testing, the rising teacher shortages due to all of this, the constant attack on our profession and lack of respect, not being paid equivalent amounts for the same level of education in other professions, lack of access to early childhood ed, – and so much more I am forgetting.”


At what point will we have not just an educator shortage but NO ONE willing to be a teacher? Yes, they’re advocating. As they should be. Join them, join us! Share information and start taking care of the kids and educators in Colorado.

Make sure you sign a petition, share information with others, and hopefully carry a petition also.