Teacher of the Year Winner Can't Afford to Teach
Allen Stevens, an educator for 18 years, won this year's Teacher of the Year Award in the Mooresville Graded School District. Yet he has switched to a private industry job to support himself. If this is any indication for the future of NC public education, it isn't bright.
Of his decision to leave the schools, Stevens noted that the “outlook (of education) is not bright for the future.”
He added, “And it’s not just pay, though I’d be lying if I said it didn’t have something to do with that, but it’s the climate (of education) everywhere from state to local.”
Stevens noted concerns he’s had with comments made by candidates running for county commissioner in regards to public education and the lack of support for future funding through bond referendums.
He said the need for a new middle school in the MGSD is great because of current overcrowding at MMS.
“Just the climate we’re in right now is difficult to be an educator in,” he said. “And you always run the risk of the combining of the school districts. Finding out that the county commissioners have that power now, and all it takes is a three-person vote, is concerning.”
Stevens added that district officials were “very supportive of me in this decision and understood my decision.
“I love what I do, and I’ve done this for a long time. And I get enjoyment of watching kids learn and seeing the impact I’ve had on them, but that sentiment doesn’t buy groceries.”
MGSD Superintendent Mark Edwards said the continuing trend of educators leaving the state for better pay, or leaving education altogether, is “heartbreaking.”
“I have huge admiration for Allen,” he said. “He was our teacher of the year, and a great person and great teacher. It’s heartbreaking when you think: Here he is, 18 years in, but he can no longer afford to be a teacher in North Carolina.
"So it’s heartbreaking and a tragedy and I think we’re going to continue to see an exodus of others leave and say education is not the place to continue my career.”