Local News

Johnston County teacher: Living a dream to teach should mean earning a living

Posted May 16, 2018 6:03 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 11:13 a.m. EDT

— A 24-year-old in her first year of teaching in Johnston County said she is living her dream as a teacher. But she’s living it on $35,000 a year.

Katie Lavender teaches first grade at South Smithfield Elementary School. She attended the rally for education in downtown Raleigh Wednesday afternoon.

Thousands of teachers, parents, students and advocates marched through the streets of downtown Raleigh Wednesday in a historic rally for North Carolina public education.

“I wanted to be in the middle of the action,” she said.

She said she teaching is her calling, but she wants to have a quality life while she pursues her passion. She feels living her dream should not prevent her from earning a decent wage.

“You hear so often that teachers know what they’re getting into when they chose their profession, and it’s true,” Lavender said. “We made our choice. But we need help.”

She boarded a bus with more than a dozen teachers from Johnston County, and she held a sign that said she lives with her parents.

Lavender said she can’t afford her rent anymore, and she’s buying supplies for her students.

Because she works at a Title I school, many kids come from low-income families.

“Pencils, glue sticks, crayons. At least $50 a paycheck, if not more – that I pay out of my own pocket,” she said. “We want to be able to do what we do, and it’s hard, it’s really hard when you’re living on the cheapest groceries you can find or having to live with your parents,” she said.

While standing up to the state’s elected leaders was never part of her job description, Lavender said she’s was glad to come to Raleigh and stand with other teachers.

“I believe teachers’ voices have been heard. They know we’re here and we’re not going to stand for it anymore,” she said.