Why Teachers Quit Their Jobs

The story of someone who turned their back on their dream

Vanessa Torre
5 min readSep 7, 2019


Photo by Feliphe Schiarolli via Unsplash

I became a high school English teacher for two reasons: I liked a college major where homework involved reading a book in bed and I had seen Dead Poet’s Society 184 too many times. This seems to be the story of most high school English teachers.

My first year teaching was a bit out of the ordinary. I took a part time assignment teaching two classes of Freshman English. For the record, no amount of schooling could prepare 22-year-old me for being in charge of 32 15-year-olds.

I ended up with a full load mid-year when a fellow teacher left her job to go work in Rwanda with the Peace Corp. Apparently, a country fresh out of a civil war seemed a better workplace than a classroom.

I suppose I should have taken that as a hint. I didn’t. I lasted four years before I made the decision to leave my career behind. Abandon what I spent the previous four years studying to do. I did it because there were more things pushing me out the down than pulling me back in.

The money

When I got my first contract, it was for roughly $28k a year. In checking my former school district’s website, if I started this year, I would make $43k. It’s about a 50% increase. It sounds impressive except when I tell you that I started teaching before Bill Clinton even finished his first term in office.

The only way I could make more money was to spend my summer, you know that time during which everyone thinks teachers sit around eating Bonbons, taking college classes to up my rank in pay scale. To demonstrate how self defeating this is, consider the following math:

It takes 12 credits to slide over one column on a certified pay scale. That’s four college classes. The cost per class at Arizona State University is $939 and that’s just tuition. So, the cost to move over is $3,756. Going from your 4th year teaching to your 5th year teaching and moving over a pay column nets you an increase of $2,321. At this point you cap out on your salary until you can pay another $3,756 for 12 more credits. Then you cap…



Vanessa Torre

Top 10 feminist writer. Writing, coaching, and relentlessly hyping women in midilfe. linktr.ee/Vanessaltorre Email: vanessa@vanessatorre.com