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- Podcasts in the Classroom: My Students - January 10, 2017
- Harper Lee's Impact on My World - February 19, 2016
- Net Neutrality and Educational Technology - March 2, 2015
- The Instructional Techie: Interview with James Sanders of the Ed Tech Team - February 26, 2015
- The Instructional Techie at the Southern #GAFESummit in Atlanta: Day 1 Part 2 - February 5, 2015
- The Instructional Techie at the Southern #GAFE Summit in Atlanta: Day 1 Part 1 - February 4, 2015
- Why Should We Care About Virtual Education? - October 22, 2014
- Why Robin Williams Helped Me Be a Teacher and an Adult - August 14, 2014
Many around the country, as the “homeless teacher,” have known Angela Curry, but she is so much more than this label. In November, I spoke to this Orlando-area teacher and mother of two about her career, her situation, and how she hopes she can make a difference in education.
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Angela Curry has not always been homeless or has been known as someone who is homeless. So what led her to telling her school board at a meeting?
While she was on unpaid maternity leave with her youngest child, Curry was trying to figure out several issues. She had problems with her finances, student loans, and trying to get support for her children from her partner/ their father after they had ended their ten-year relationship. She was working with a lawyer, pro-bono, who suggested that she should apply for welfare. Curry told her lawyer that she believed she wouldn’t qualify, but since she was on unpaid leave, she qualified for that time period. She had lost her home and was living with a friend so she applied as homeless.
Flash forward several months to the October 2013 board meeting. Curry was living with her 3 year old son and infant daughter in a friend’s house. When she was about to speak at the meeting, she was asked where she lived. Curry had a thought of concern because she was using different mailing addresses of family and friends for billing purposes and didn’t want to get in trouble. She doesn’t pay rent to her friend and is listed as homeless so that is what she said.
“Even though it’s true, I didn’t really want people to know that.”
She began talking about her situation because the meeting had reporters there, and it’s public record.
Curry initially got a lot of bad and negative press because a local paper printed what her salary should be without knowing all the facts. Her salary is listed at around $41,000. (The video lists it at $36,000.) It hasn’t changed in about four or five years. She has had time off due to maternity leave for each of her kids but has had to take unpaid time off for illnesses, etc. Angela is also a Nationally Board Certified Teacher and has completely lost her stipend, like so many teachers around the country. She tries to pick up summer school due to her system paying over 10 months and not the summer. Daycare takes a lot of her paycheck. For her two kids, it is $300 a week, between $1200 and $1500 a month. Unfortunately as she was becoming a mom, the education budget cuts continued, pay freezes stayed, and her ten-year relationship with her children’s father was coming to an end. All of this, including her ex not being able to support her kids right now, has lead to the money not being there.
What about her career, which she believes helps define her? Curry is in her 13th year of teaching. She is an avid union member and used to lobby and speak to legislators a lot. She has taught in Title I schools for her entire career.
“When I sat down at a job fair with the principal who became my boss, I said that Title I is where I need to be.”
She comes from a broken home and wanted to work with kids who did not have the best lifestyles. Her first school was very old needed work. She worked in first grade and was actually attacked by one of her students with a pair of scissors. Instead of running away from teaching, she wanted to know how she could handle situations like that. She has become the teacher that mainstreamed children with emotional behavioral disorders are placed with. She loves working with her students, mostly high risk, and watching them grow. She loves using hand-on learning with kids, using activities like cooking to understand measuring, erosion, etc. She pointed out that most teachers are dedicated like she and the others she works with are. She just wishes more policy makers could see that. Curry is nationally board certified and has been Teacher of the Year. In the past, she was offered county positions but chose to stay in the classroom.
“I haven’t been offered one recently,” she laughed.
I asked Curry what she hopes her story accomplishes. She points out, pay aside, that people who “have not set foot inside of a classroom” are making most of the important education policy decisions She says that they are dictating how teachers are being evaluated, paid, etc. and don’t understand the day to day things teachers do in and out of the classroom. She hopes that people start realizing the sacrifices teachers make for their students.
Curry has been concerned with how some have perceived her in the media. She has tried to do everything right. She moved out when she was 17 and lived with a friend. She worked hard in school thanks to a teacher who pushed her to do more. Her mom left school in 9th grade, and Curry was driven to do better. Her home life wasn’t perfect, but her teachers made a difference. She hopes that she can do that with her students. She finished college, purposely waited until her early 30’s to have her kids, and was in a long-term relationship. She wants others to understand this, even though she is going through difficulties.
She is obviously a dedicated teacher and mother. It’s just, sometimes; life doesn’t always go as we plan. We all have to adjust and keep moving forward.
If you are interested in help a fellow teacher during this time period, click here for more information.