Letter: The long-term rewards of teaching

Graphic by Lori Deaton

[Regarding “Burned Out: Preserving Asheville’s Teacher Corps,” May 3, Xpress:] Both my mother and father taught in the Asheville City Schools system all their lives. During my early years, I remember that we were relatively poor and lived in West Asheville, where we were not a lot better off than most of the blue-collar working class who made up the large majority of people living in West Asheville then.

Neither of my parents ever complained about the low pay; they just loved their work and were not doing it for money. As to the hours, both of them put in long hours, and my dad practically lived at the schools he taught at and did coaching jobs after school for extra money.

I realize that we live in different times now, and Asheville, especially West Asheville, is much more expensive, but there are still, I am sure, many who now work in the Asheville City public school system who do the work because, like my parents, they get their rewards when former students tell them years after that what they did as teachers changed their students’ lives.

— John Penley

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One thought on “Letter: The long-term rewards of teaching

  1. Phil Williams

    One of the most satisfying jobs I has was as a Veteran’s Service Officer for the NC Division of Veteran’s Affairs – you really got to help folks who needed – and deserved – assistance that they were actually legally entitled to. You certainly would not get rich at it, but the environment was pleasant, I had the best boss you could ask for, and the benefits were great. Then we went for several years without a raise – and the State has this habit of hiring new folks pretty much at the entry rate – meaning that, after 3 or 4 years of no raises, the junior guy that you are having to train was brought in making the same money that you are STILL making….then the insurance premiums and deductibles and catastrophic caps soared while the approved amounts and payouts went down.

    Job satisfaction is great – but kind of hard to pay the bills with. And it can be disheartening and have a souring effect on one’s attitude when your job is to obtain benefits for others while for you, the next car repair is a major financial event and you literally feel every 5 cent rise in gas prices.

    When I was mobilized for active duty in 2005, I was a new First Lieutenant in the Army – and my military take home pay was 3 times what I was making as a mid-level State employee. Almost ALL of my peers had retired either from the military or the Federal government prior to coming on board with the State – as one of my pals said, our training conferences “looked like an adult daycare center” – everyone was over 60 years old! And the State wonders why they cannot retain young, educated employees? I am retiring soon from the Army – perhaps I will be able to afford to go back to work for the State now!

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