The following is a submission from an educator as part of the Your Soapbox feature, which explores the experiences of educators in North Carolina through their own words. Check out more first person stories here, or if you are an educator, submit your own.
When I started Kindergarten, it was clear to my parents that I was a born teacher.
I was thrilled to be learning to read, write and do math, but was most excited to come home and show my younger brother what we did in school that day. Countless hours were spent playing “school” as I shared with my brother what I loved the most, learning.
There was never a question as to what I would do. Never a hesitation, or second thought.
But today, as I closely monitor my bank account to make sure the daycare payment doesn’t overdraft us and figure how much money I have for diapers or gas, I second guess my choices.
How am I supposed to raise a family when my salary keeps us just above the poverty line? If we ever braved to have another child, we would qualify for federal aid. We have no savings in case of emergency. We are burdened by medical bills accrued. Month to month we continue to ask what can we leave out this month. What can wait until next. Do we get the oil changed, the brakes replaced, or pay the $52 copay each week for our daughter’s physical therapy?
It is decisions like these that break the dream I once had.
If something doesn’t change soon, I will leave education, my dream job, for my family. Not because I’m tired of grading, or dealing with discipline problems, or fed up with testing, observations, coverages, duties or parents.
It will be because I can’t live on a teacher’s salary.