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Jack Hesser

Jack Hesser

Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat

This Indianapolis teacher works a second job until 2 a.m. But he doesn’t want to leave the classroom

Harshman Middle School teacher Jack Hesser wakes up at 5 a.m. to get ready for school. He makes copies, sets up his classroom, and greets his students.

But his day doesn’t end when the lessons are over, when the students get on the bus, or even after he makes phone calls home to tell parents about their children’s accomplishments and challenges.

His day ends at 2 a.m., after a shift at his part-time job at a downtown Indianapolis restaurant.

The restaurant had to give Hesser the night off so he could tell his story last month about how he makes ends meet at “What Teachers Make,” a story slam on teacher pay co-hosted by Chalkbeat and Teachers Lounge Indy at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art.

Here’s an excerpt of Hesser’s story:

If I was a full-time server at that same restaurant, I’d make $18,000 more a year than I do as a teacher. I don’t say that to freak out my principal or my fellow educators. I love teaching.

But sometimes, when my car breaks down again, or my freezer broke, and I’m working doubles on Sunday knowing that when I leave the restaurant at 10:30 p.m., or 11 p.m., or later, that I’m going to be back at school in a few hours, I wonder why.

I wonder, why am I consistently putting in these 50-, 60-hour work weeks as a teacher, trying to make every single day meaningful for my students — just to have to go to my second job whenever life happens? Just to be able to afford to maybe make a trip somewhere, and not even somewhere exciting. I’m talking Michigan! … No shame, Michigan.

Check out the rest of Hesser’s story in the video below.

You can find more stories from educators, students, and parents here.