Career Questions: Outside Employment
Q: I teach second grade and plan to be married next year. My fiancé and I have both taken second jobs so we can save for a down payment for a house. I was working at a department store for minimum wage, but recently I started working as a bartender in a local bar, where I can make a lot more money. My work doesn’t interfere with my teaching at all; however, my principal found out and called me into his office. He didn’t like my working as a bartender and said it didn’t fit the image of an elementary teacher. He said he couldn’t make me quit, but just wanted me to think about it. I think what I do on my own time is my business, but now I’m worried about my teaching job.
A: Lots of teachers have part-time jobs, especially in the summer. Some teach summer school, some paint houses, some sell real estate, some are wait staff – the list is probably endless. No one raises an eyebrow.
What you do on your own time is, for the most part, your own business, but not entirely when you are paid with public funds. Also, some jobs might be seen as “unbecoming” to your role as a teacher and might compromise your credibility as someone who works with young children. Pole dancing, for example, or telemarketing might fit into that category.
Tending bar is not the same as dancing on it. Still, there could be some awkward moments if you end up serving parents of your students, especially if they overindulge and become less than charming. Also, a lot depends on the establishment. Is it a quiet corner pub or a restaurant or is it a place where a brawl might break out at any minute and you may find yourself testifying in court?
You get my drift. Your principal doesn’t have a right to fire you based on your bartending (in most states), but use discretion. It might be a perfectly fine part-time job or it might tarnish your reputation with parents. Fair? Probably not. Realistic? Most likely.