With school out for the summer, Maine teachers take on 2nd, 3rd jobs – Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel
Jodie Bennett’s classroom looks a little different in the summer — instead of answering the raised hands of her reading and language arts students at Winthrop Middle School, she calls upon the unliving.
Bennett runs Kennebec Creeps & Crawls, which provides haunted walking tours through Hallowell and Augusta.
She started the business as a new way for her to earn an extra income as a single mother, but it has also helped her become the teacher she always strived to be.
“It’s my opportunity to showcase the best parts of myself — I can be a teacher, I can be an entertainer,” she said. “I love laughter so my true sense of humor can come through.”
For some teachers, working summer jobs and year-round side-gigs is unavoidable, perhaps not to pay routine bills, but to travel, pay for kids’ activities and soften the blow of unexpected expenses.
Some opt to take up other education jobs by staffing summer school programs and tutoring, or continue working with youth in summer camp, while others chase a passion beyond teaching.
But many are simply drawn to jobs with higher pay, such as waitressing.
A national survey by the U.S. Department of Education found that one in five teachers supplemented their income with a second job during the school year and one third took on summer jobs during the 2017-18 school year, the latest data available.
The same survey found that one in three teachers would leave teaching as soon as possible if they could get a higher-paying job.
The average classroom teacher salary in Maine is $49,096, based on 2020 state data, accounting for more than 12,000 teachers in the state. A teacher’s pay depends on the district, their experience, their position and their degree.
‘I like the difference between teaching and waitressing because I get to interact with adults that are out enjoying their time and enjoying each other’
— Alyssa Estes
The upcoming school year will mark the first year all teachers in the state of Maine are required to be paid a minimum salary of $40,000, based on a law signed by Gov. Janet Mills in 2019 and phased in over three years.
Still, the minimum falls short of the average annual cost of living in Maine per person — $45,272, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Here’s a look at how some central Maine teachers are spending their summers.
JODIE BENNETT: HAUNTED TOUR GUIDE
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