For Andrew Evertts, coaching high school basketball was a dream come true.
“[The thing I loved about coaching was] getting kids to believe they could do something special. We would always teach them to dream big,” 30-year-old Evertts tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I thought I would coach until I was 60 years old, I honestly did.”
Evertts imagined himself coaching until retirement— that is, until the financial realities of working as a public school educator in Indiana came crashing down. After seven years as a teacher and a high school basketball coach, Evertts put in his resignation, and posted an open letter on Twitter explaining his rationale.
“Although I have enjoyed coaching basketball more than I can put on paper, the unfortunate fact is that it does not pay the bills. My education salary is what supports my family, and at this point is not adequate for our needs,” Evertts wrote in a letter he posted on Twitter on Sunday.
“I have put my heart and soul into this profession for the last seven years. But my compensation does not reflect that.”
I know word has gotten out, just wanted to explain our situation a little more. I would imagine some people will be upset with this, and understandably so. I will probably take a social media hiatus after this, so call or text if you need me. Thanks! pic.twitter.com/v3kJdQXTwQ— Andrew Evertts (@CoachEvertts) May 7, 2019
The basketball coach, who also taught physical education and health at the school, had been contemplating switching to a career path with higher pay for months.
According to Evertts, being a successful basketball coach was all about preparation. His time outside the classroom was consumed by practice, watching game footage, planning practice, scouting schools, and, of course, basketball games.
“Some days, I would get to school at 7 a.m. in the morning and get home at 11o’clock at night for road games,” he says. “I couldn't see my son as much as I wanted to.” With the crazy on- and off-season hours, the small coaching stipend he received for the time commitment wasn’t paying off.
Evertts’ wife, Susan, also works as a teacher for the North Montgomery School Corporation, instructing art classes for the middle school and high school. While their teacher salaries were enough to support themselves before they were married, “trying to raise a family with it is almost impossible,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle, especially with the rising medical costs to pay for the care of their 9-month old son Jackson.
Jackson suffers from infant torticollis, a condition in which newborns have a tilted head or trouble turning their head. While the condition is relatively common in newborns, it requires physical therapy and frequent trips to pediatric doctors.
“Financially, we were barely getting by, but we were OK. But, then the medical expenses were starting to pile up,” Evertts explains.
His tipping point was discovering that Jackson would need a cranial molding helmet— yet another medical expense. Evertts quickly made the executive decision it was time to find a new profession so that could better support his family.
“It was a tough decision but we felt like we made the best decision for our family,” Evertts says, adding that he felt guilty for resigning just one year after taking the coaching position at North Montgomery High School. “I felt bad, like I was bailing out on them. But, I guess I had to be selfish and think about my family a little more— and it was tough.”
Although Evertts never asked the North Montgomery School Corporation for a pay raise, he knew from his past experience as a school administrator that the school budgets would make it nearly impossible.
“While North Montgomery is able to pay a competitive salary in comparison to many Indiana schools, we certainly recognize the need for better compensation for our teachers,” Dr. Colleen Moran, the superintendent of North Montgomery Community School Corporation, says in a statement to Yahoo Lifestyle. “Millions of dollars have been diverted to testing companies and private, for-profit schools, that has unfortunately resulted in Indiana teacher pay falling behind other states and teachers leaving the profession, just like Mr. Evertts.”
After informing his team and the school that he planned to have a career change, the former basketball coach posted the letter to explain his financial woes and “give one final ounce of support for my education colleagues.”
“Even though I despise how little teachers are compensated in this state, I understand what I signed up for,” Evertts wrote. “And now, because of my family needs, I will be leaving the field of education.”
In the letter, Evertts addressed “unfair teacher wages,” adding that, in his years as an Indiana educator, the “pay scales seem[ed] to get worse each year.” According to the Northwest Indiana Times, “teacher pay has suffered the biggest inflation-adjusted drop since the 1999-2000 school year,” with Indiana teachers earning almost 16 percent less than they did two decades ago.
Despite working as an educator in three different Indiana districts for over seven years, he believed he would still have a few more years before surpassing the $40,000 salary mark.
Beyond the low compensation, Evertts revealed he no longer enjoyed the profession. “Teaching is an extremely difficult profession in today’s age. I feel it is nearly impossible to hold students accountable to the high standard I believe is right, which great reduces the number of students I am able to impact in young people’s lives,” Evertts wrote. “I have so much respect for the people that continue to do this job on a daily basis, they are true heroes.”
Although it was not Evertts’ intention, his frustration with education in Indiana resonated with teachers across the state and beyond.
Thanks for sharing coach. The struggle is real for a lot of us teaching & coaching. We are asked to continuously give more with no one really knowing exactly how much we give up. Its honestly something my family & I struggle with. I admire your courage to bring this to light— Shane Burkhart (@CoachBurk22) May 7, 2019
Andrew, having been one of your teachers in high school, I can fully relate to your frustration. This part of the reason many of your teachers have retired early. I have written many concerned letters to state reps+senators to no avail. They just don't get it. Prayers to you.— Rick Kirkton (@rgkirkton) May 7, 2019
Not shocking at all to those who and care. Teachers (which I am too) get paid absolutely the worst. I went 7 years without a raise and have 4 kids. Soon I’ll probably have to do something else. Sadly, not many in line to replace me!!— Tim Weeks (@timweeks4_) May 9, 2019
“If I'm able to make one last impact on the field of education throughout this and if this spurs any change, it's achieved its purpose,” Evertts tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Education is one of the most noble professions out there. I just hope that someday that is reflected state-wide in teacher compensation.”
The Indiana State Teacher's Association has responded to Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment.
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