New film fights negative perception of teachers

“All of my classmates were going for … PhDs, JDs, MBAs,” said Jasey in the film. “I knew I didn’t want to do any of those things. When I started telling my friends that I wanted to go into education, everyone immediately said, ‘Oh, like Teach for America?’ and I said, ‘No, I want to do education as my career,’ and people really didn’t understand that.”

She says she was met with disbelief when she told others she didn’t want to be a doctor or lawyer.

“They said, ‘Oh, you could do anything—why would you want to be a teacher? Anybody could teach,’” said Jasey. She added: “Who would you rather have teaching your kids? You don’t want your kids being taught by someone who went to Harvard?”

Erik Benner, a teacher in Texas, was forced to get a part-time position at Circuit City (and later Floor and Décor) in addition to his coaching position just to make ends meet.

“Factor in a $350 car payment, having to pay more in taxes and insurance—it was pretty much paycheck to paycheck,” said Benner in the film.

Referred to by one of his students as “the most exciting teacher I’ve ever had,” Benner said the constant worry over money and long hours took a major toll on his family life and his marriage.

“It’s so clear that his students love him so much, and he’s so connected to the profession, that it kills me that we haven’t been able to figure out how to double his salary so he doesn’t have to work at Floor and Décor,” Calegari said.

Amanda Lueck is a second-year teacher in Denver struggling with an overcrowded—and underfunded—classroom.

“I’ve got about 40 desks in this small classroom just to accommodate everyone. I have students sitting on the counter,” she said in her video diary. “I feel like everything I do, I’m just making do.”

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