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Morning Shift

Teachers Take Side Jobs to Make Ends Meet

Teaching is a challenging job, but at least you get a summer break, right? Not exactly. Many teachers work as waiters, retail workers, tutors, Uber drivers, or have other side hustles in the summertime to make ends meet. Some teachers even work side jobs during the school year.

Illinois is ranked ninth in the nation in average teacher pay, but some are still moonlighting to make extra cash. In fact, teachers are 30 percent more likely than others to work second jobs, according to the Brookings Institution. 

Joining The Morning Shift to talk about their side hustles are two longtime Chicago teachers.

Alison Eichhorn teaches high school history at Lindblom Math and Science Academy in West Englewood, and spends her summers as a server in a restaurant. She also teaches aspiring teachers in a master’s program at the University of Chicago.

Justin Wrzesinski teaches music at John C. Coonley Elementary in North Center. He spends his summers teaching private lessons, and playing the piano at gigs across the city.

Why many teachers need to work in the summertime

Alison Eichhorn: Chicago Public Schools teachers don’t get paid during the summer... a lot of teachers, depending on needs during the school year, don’t have the summer coverage of pay that they need.

On using side jobs to prevent burnout

Justin Wrzsesinski: During the year, there is so much work and planning... I’m the only music teacher at my school, so I teach over a thousand students… Being able to, on a Friday or Saturday, go play a show or play music somewhere really helps me with my stress.

On juggling summer jobs with planning for next school year

Eichhorn: In June, we should [plan] what we’re teaching in the fall. I’m developing a new course on the history of Chicago, I have to re-plan my AP Microeconomics class... that never leaves me. So [it’s] like, what can I do maybe in the 15 or 20 minutes that I have a break to think about how this course is going to develop.

GUESTS: Justin Wrzesinski, music teacher at John C. Coonley Elementary

Alison Eichhorn, history teacher at Lindblom Math and Science Academy

LEARN MORE: Why are teachers more likely than others to work second jobs? (Brookings Institution 3/23/18)

Teachers have been moonlighting in Texas—and elsewhere—to make ends meet (Brookings Institution 4/20/18)

The Fight Over Teacher Salaries: A Look At The Numbers (NPR 3/16/18)

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