Being a Teacher versus Being a Principal

Today I finished my final structured class, School Law, for my Administrative License. I have just about 15 hours left to kill working with my mentor, AND THEN I’M DONE! WOOOO! Well, mostly. Then I will have to study for a big test called the ORELA which I intend to take in a couple months. Ok THEN I will be done. Officially. God, help me.

When I started this program a couple years ago, I remember telling myself, “Well, I’m certainly not ready to be an assistant principal yet, but in a couple years I’ll probably be there.”

Or not. At this point, I feel LESS enthused about the whole thing.

Let’s do some math, shall we? Here is my school district’s current salary schedule for teachers. (And for those who think teachers are overpaid, keep in mind it cost me $60k for all my POST-Bachelor’s Degree work just to be a teacher and do this admin program; oh yeah, and Obama’s loan forgiveness doesn’t apply to the year I graduated).


I now have my Master’s plus 45 credits, so I get to shoot straight over to the right side of the page. After I have worked 10 years in the district, I will be at $65,980. 

Ok, now here is the current salary schedule for administrators in my district.


Ok, so say my 10th year of teaching, I decide, “Hey, I’m going to be an Assistant Principal,” and I get hired at $80,420. 

As a teacher, I am contracted for 190 days a year, and as you see above, an AP works 215 days (but let’s be honest, both positions work for more days than it says).

190 days x 8 hours a day = 1520 hours a year

$65980/1520 hours = $43.40/hr

Not bad, not bad. Technically, I am only contracted for 7.5 hour days, but realistically I work an eight hour day (or more).

Ok let’s compare the Assistant Principal position.

215 days x 10 hours a day = 2150 hours a year

$80,420/2150 hours = $37.40/hour

<insert record scratch sound here> Say WHAT?! So in a few years, I would make more hourly as a teacher than an administrator?! Wasn’t the whole point of being an administrator to make more money?! (and affect change blah blah blah).

I have watched my principals and assistant principals worked to the proverbial bone. They are there on weekends. They are at basketball games on Saturdays and family events on weeknights. Not to mention they are the ones who take the heat when a group of parents publicly decry a policy they don’t agree with, or when a kid goes missing. Regardless of how I’ve felt about any of my principals, I can’t help but respect the literal amount of labor and time they put into their jobs.

That being said, I can’t say that life is for me. 


On a selfish level, I got to see one of my very first students, Lenta, yesterday. Very recently, we reconnected on Facebook and I remembered how much he loved basketball so I offered to help him into the Nike Employee Store. We met him and his mom there, and chatted a little. He asked if I still wrote an individual letter to my students on the last day of school and I said yes. Then he said that the letter I wrote him was still taped to his bedroom wall, and that I had written, “I will take you out to a fancy dinner when you graduate high school,” and that he was going to take me up on it in a year. 

His mom proceeded to tell me a story of how back in Thailand, a “friend” of hers basically kidnapped Lenta when he was four while she was giving birth to his baby brother. You wouldn’t believe the story if I told you, but what she did to get him back was akin to that Sally Fields movie, Not Without My Daughter. Now Lenta is planning on graduating early, and hoping to go to MIT.

I’m learning that, yeah, teaching can be a real bitch, but it has unexpected benefits down the road. Knowing that I made an impact with Lenta years ago is important; it reinforces that I don’t necessarily want to write policy, attend district meetings, or write teacher evaluations. 

So for now, I’m going to get that admin license because I’ve worked hard for it, but maybe I’ll just put it in a frame and call it good. 

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