FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Sameera Abu-Ghannam works a few days a week at Cheddar’s in Morgantown for some extra money.
She does this in the evenings and nights after school, where she works during the day for her full-time job.
“I’m there after school from 5:30 to 11 Tuesdays and Thursdays, sometimes on Mondays,” Abu-Ghannam, a teacher at West Fairmont Middle School, said. “I’ve had that job for seven years, I’ve been a teacher for three.”
While picketing against West Virginia legislative changes, many of the teachers and service personnel participating said they held down a job outside of school for a necessary second income. Some of these employees, such as Abu-Ghannam, have had these jobs before they began teaching, and never left because they still need the money.
“I work at Colasessano’s for three days a week,” Brian Cleveland, a teacher at West Fairmont Middle School, said. “I pick up more hours when I have the time.”
All across the county’s schools, many of the picketers attested to having a second job, some even managing a business while still teaching.
“For the first nine or 10 years of teaching I had a second job,” Chuck Jordan, a teacher at White Hall Elementary, said. “I used to work as a grill cook at Cracker Barrel for years.”
For some, these second or even third jobs are necessary to stay afloat, while others utilize the money to maintain a standard of living.
“My second income pays for my girls’ tuition for voice lessons and dance lessons,” Paula Hatton, a counselor at Watson Elementary who also works at Main Street Yoga in Fairmont, said. “Vacations come out of that fund. Basically, this pays for my bills and anything extra that we want to do comes out of my second job.”
Summertime provides an opportunity for those with an extra job to pick up more hours to either build up funds or make ends meet, as several mentioned. But also in the summer, some of these school employees must work on their curriculums for the upcoming school year, and others are still in school working in tutoring, special education, extended school years and coaching sports.
Some other school employees said they have even more lucrative jobs outside of their full-time teaching, yet they stay in school. As they described, it’s a love for the teaching that keeps them coming back, and also keeps them in the fight for their rights.
“I make more off my business than I do teaching,” said Megan Brown, a teacher at Fairmont Senior High School who also runs her own jewelry business. “And I’m continuing to teach because of the insurance, but now the insurance is sucking.
“I may get forced out of a profession that I love. I’m teaching obviously not because of the paycheck but because I love what I do. I keep doing it because I love it, but we’re at the point now where they’re forcing a lot of us out.”
Information from: Times West Virginian, http://www.timeswv.com