A&F Staff Writer
After leaving school almost $50,000 in debt, teachers owe more than what they make in two years.
For ten months out of the year, North Carolina teachers spend an estimated $513 out-of-pocket on supplies and work close to 60 hours on average during the week, according to Forbes magazine.
North Carolina currently holds the 47th spot in the nation on median annual salary.
Julie Curry, an eighth grade language arts teacher 10 years into her career, is not surprised.
“This coming August, I’ll still be making what a factory worker or a full-time Walmart employee will make,” said the Lenoir native. “We teach the future lawyers, doctors, presidents, cancer cure specialists, so why are we at the bottom of the totem pole for salary?”
Curry wakes up every morning before the sun to prepare for the day and does not leave work until it goes down – making the school her second home.
The outside hours and the emotional investment are not and can not be repaid at the end of the month with their usual signed paycheck, as most teachers would say they are there for the students – to change their world, the 10 year veteran said.
A decent salary would be a start. The average beginning income for a North Carolina teacher ranges from $27,392 to $32,642, according to the Civitas Institute.
Second grade teacher Elyse Addington-Reese agrees.
“During my first six years as a teacher in North Carolina , I received no raise,” said the educator of seven years. “North Carolina needs to value its seasoned teachers and pay them accordingly and at the same time offer incentives for young teachers to want to stay in the profession.”
Madelynn Burton, a recent graduate from UNC Asheville with a psychology teacher’s licensure currently teaches kindergarten at Hillandale Elementary School in Flat Rock.
“From what I’ve heard, a lot of the people in our state making the calls about educators are people who have never taught a day in their life or people who taught many, many years ago,” said 21-year-old Burton. “It is hard to understand what teachers need without being one currently or recently.”
This becomes a problem because education is always changing, with new studies coming out every day on how students learn best and the most effective way to teach, Burton said.
Middle school language arts teacher Julie Curry said she always looks for a more effective way to get her kids to understand the concepts she presents, especially with all of the technology now at their fingertips.
“I give my very best to my students and work hard to get them to focus on something other than their phone,” Curry said. “Something other than their computer, girlfriend, boyfriend, the next fight in the lunchroom or the next meal. It can get hard to keep that attention though.”
Although teacher outlook in North Carolina remains at an all-time low according to Forbes magazine, Curry still encourages her daughter to follow her own dreams of becoming a teacher.
Curry said she never wants to see her struggle, but knows the impact she will leave is one of great importance.
“We might be poor, but our children, our students, can be rich in knowledge and no one can take that away,” Curry said.