When the final school bell in May signals the start of summer, for most Texas teachers, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of school. The public perception that teachers take the entire ten weeks of summer off is both inaccurate and disheartening to educators. BISD High School teachers Kristi Street, Gretchen Foster, and Barbara Epperson, like public school teachers all across the state, are of course ready for some relaxation and the chance to recharge. At the same time, they are preparing to participate in activities related to their profession.
Street, Foster, and Epperson, named by Belton High School Principal Chris duBois as three of our finest teachers, shared their plans with me. All will participate this summer in the district’s Secondary Learning Summit. In addition, they will prepare for the 2015-16 school year, which will involve analyzing test scores from the spring, developing new curriculum, writing lesson plans, and attending professional development meetings. Epperson, like many, plans to continue her pursuit of a doctorate.
Our teachers will often work another job during their summer, usually for low pay. During my 13 years as a math teacher, I not only worked extra jobs during the summer, but nights, weekends, and holidays to help support my family. After completing my master’s degree, I was pleased to earn another $500 – per year! Epperson tells me that’s now $1000 for BISD teachers.
Currently, the minimum pay for Texas teachers, by state law, is $27,540. As if that’s not bad enough, some legislators tried, during this year’s legislative session to slash that amount. Chairman of the House Public Education Committee, State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, is to be commended for his efforts to fix the state funding for education, which naturally impacts teacher pay. Unfortunately, it now appears the courts will have to fix what our legislature cannot.
However, duBois points out that most teachers are mainly in the profession to make a difference in the lives of their students. That reminds me of why I wanted to be a teacher in the first place. In the words of my ninth-grade coach and homeroom teacher, Charlie Strack, “I teach to see the dawn break in students’ eyes.” It’s obvious to me, after talking with Street, Foster, and Epperson, that they are among those who love teaching for that reason. These hard-working, dedicated teachers don’t really get summer off. Instead, they spend much of it becoming better teachers and helping their families make ends meet. To all those who educate our children, have a great summer!
Michael Brown is an education consultant and former teacher. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.