‘Because They Care’: Teacher Shares Struggle Making Ends Meet

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By Stan Bush

LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4) – Could you work 70 hours a week on only five hours of sleep a night? How much would you need to make that lifestyle worth it?

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(credit: CBS)

Many teachers in Colorado are facing those questions. After the final bell, those teachers go to second jobs just to keep a roof over their heads.

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“We have to be able to do what we do and not worry about making ends meet at the same time,” said Krista Degerness, a special education language teacher at Ken Caryl Middle School in Littleton. “Teachers do what they do because they care.”

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CBS4’s Stan Bush interviews Krista Degerness. (credit: CBS)

Degerness wakes up at 5:30 a.m., often at work by 6:30 a.m. and teaches until 3 p.m. After class, she goes to a second job as a dental assistant.

“Some days it’s clear because the phones are ringing off the hook, I’m going to be here until 9 o’clock,” she said.

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Once she’s home, Degerness doesn’t finish grading papers and preparing for the next school day until after midnight.

She began teaching more than a year ago and makes about $42,000 a year. The national average for teachers is $57,000.

RELATED: Interactive Map: Average Teacher Salaries In Colorado

Colorado ranks near the bottom for teacher compensation. Nationally teacher pay is increasingly seen as having become a crisis.

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Krista Degerness (credit: CBS)

Degerness says if pay doesn’t change she may not be able to teach much longer.

“I have a strong work ethic and a strong faith,” said Degerness. “I know the work is important, and it’s why I do it.”

Stan Bush is a general assignment reporter at CBS4. His stories can be seen on CBS4 News at 10. Read his bio and follow him on Twitter @StanBushTV.

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