- Associated Press - Friday, July 21, 2017

LOGAN, Utah (AP) - Middle school math teacher Marc Muir said delivering Domino’s pizza gives him a different outlook.

“Some teachers, they’re excited for Friday to come, and I think Friday is my worst day,” he said.

After he turns off the lights in his South Cache Middle School classroom at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon, he has a short break before donning his Domino’s uniform for an eight-hour shift.

Muir started delivering pizza 11 years ago when he was attending Utah State University and kept the gig when he started teaching three years later. He said the money was nice and he wanted to save up to buy a house. Since then, he has worked nearly every Friday and Saturday night year-round.

He said it’s tough to work two jobs, but if he dropped shifts during the school year he would probably miss out during the summer when college students are looking for extra cash.

As Muir teaches more and more students throughout the valley, he has the possibility of delivering pizzas to more former and current students. He said that can lead to the occasional classroom pestering.

“Sometimes in class they’ll be like, ‘I saw you at Domino’s last night,’ and that has nothing to do with my lesson and it totally interrupts the class,” Muir said. “And then everyone is like, ‘You work at Domino’s?’”

He’s found that if he doesn’t make a big deal out of it, the interest usually fades.

“I say, ‘I’m a real person, I don’t live at the school, I have other things that I do,’” Muir said.

With plenty of time in his car, Muir said he likes to listen to audiobooks. He will often see what his students are reading and get those books. Sometimes, that’s the only way he can connect with students. He said it helps to show that he isn’t a robot.

“If I can have a conversation about something other than math, sometimes they’ll give a little bit more effort,” he said.

Outside of the 183-day contract for teachers in Cache County School District, he said he technically doesn’t have any obligations. But that doesn’t mean teachers sit at home twiddling their thumbs.

Throughout the year, he said teachers revamp their curriculum and attend meetings over the summer. The district’s middle school math contract with Pearson ends this year, so he is working on building a new curriculum, but once the weekend comes it’s back to the pie.

“I think it’s a really mixed bag, what teachers do over the summer,” CCSD Chief Curriculum Officer Tim Smith said.

He said some teachers work on the family farm, construction, seasonal jobs or internal jobs in the school district, like drivers ed.

Mountain Crest High School Principal Teri Cutler said she has a teacher who works for UPS and another who flips houses in the summer. Others in the military reserve complete basic training renewals.

In general, Cutler said she’s noticed that it’s more common for male teachers to seek out summer jobs compared to their female counterparts.

“Some, frankly, just take it off and spend time with their family,” Smith said.

Others, like Muir, work second jobs throughout the school year. He said it’s no secret that teachers get paid lower than other jobs with similar degree requirements.

Teachers often will take advantage of the summertime lull to work on changing lanes in the salary schedule through advanced coursework.

When a teacher gets a bachelor’s degree plus 30 credit hours, they move up to the second pay scale. If they earn a master’s degree or 50 additional credit hours, they can move up again. Each lane change grants a teacher roughly an extra $2,000 per year.

“It’s very common for teachers to work on furthering their education over the summer,” Smith said.

Brian Heinsohn, a fifth grade teacher at River Heights Elementary, does a little bit of everything.

During his eight years of teaching, he has taken on part-time jobs as a fly fishing guide, a hunting guide with his two German Shorthairs and a salesman at Al’s Sporting Goods.

But before all of that, he was a welder for Vulcraft. His life changed dramatically when he got hurt on the job. He was providing for two kids and a wife and had to get retrained.

“That was a wake-up call and I learned pretty quickly just how important education was,” Heinsohn said.

His wife, who had been staying home with the kids, went to work full time while Heinsohn took mechanical engineering courses. He said the pay was attractive and he always likes building things. He never thought he would become a teacher until he studied under a professor who he described as energized and excited.

“He was really inspirational and I started having feelings that, you know, where were those opportunities when I was going through school?” Heinsohn said. “I felt kind of cheated.”

When he had the opportunity to tutor some kids, he said he knew that he was in the wrong field.

“I jumped ship, went into education and I’ve never looked back,” Heinsohn said. “I absolutely love what I do, but it can be a challenge to raise a family.”

When he started teaching, his wife went back to school and took on unpaid internships. To make up for the lost income, he would teach during the day, work at Al’s at night and guide on the weekends.

“I was working seven days a week just to make ends meet,” he said.

Now, a few years later, life is just slightly less hectic. Heinsohn works at Al’s year round and is currently working toward a master’s degree.

“It’s hard to find a balance but you just have to schedule your time,” he said. “I still try to find at least two to four hours a week that I can get out and fish to recharge my batteries.”

After eight years as a teacher - with side jobs - he said he still isn’t making the kind of money he would bring home as a welder. He has a son heading to USU this fall and a daughter with two years left in high school, so he is getting ready for the most expensive point of having kids.

He said teachers should get paid more and there is a misconception that they only work nine months. Teachers work on curriculum and prepare for the coming year, and many work on certificates to stay current.

“It’s always on your mind of how to improve or adjust or how to help kids achieve their best and grow in their learning,” Heinsohn said.

He admitted he could easily be making twice his salary if he had stuck to an engineering job in the private sector, but he views his injury in the mill as a gift in disguise. He was a high school dropout who was just welding for the pay, and he was able to get retrained and do something he loves.

“I’d rather be in something that I enjoy than just chase the money,” Heinsohn said.


Information from: The Herald Journal, https://www.hjnews.com

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