(WSVN) - School districts in South Florida and across the country started the school year short of teachers, but current teachers warn the crisis may only get worse. 7’s Kevin Ozebek explains why in tonight’s 7 Investigates.

It’s 5:30 p.m., and Jamie Delerme just got home.

Jamie Delerme, elementary school teacher: “Poor baby gotta walk. She’s been inside all day.”

She takes her dog out after a long day of teaching fourth grade at Lake Forest Elementary in Pembroke Park.

But after a quick walk, that’s it for downtime.

Jamie Delerme: “I’m tired. I really want to go home and go to sleep, but I can’t.”

She can’t because it’s time to start her second job.

Jamie Delerme: “Oh, we got an order. Papa John’s to Lauderhill.”

Tonight Jamie will make deliveries for Uber Eats until around 9:30 p.m.

She can’t live off just her teacher’s salary, which is less than $49,000 a year. This single mother says, to make ends meet, she works around 85 hours a week.

Jamie Delerme: “I average two to three hours of sleep a night.”

Kevin Ozebek: “How concerned should parents be that if teachers have to do this to survive, their kid’s education is suffering?”

Jamie Delerme: “I can tell you with 100% honesty I am unable to give my kids 100% of me — not the bare minimum, because I will never do the bare minimum — but I could do more.”

Christene Stewart has just started her 24th year teaching civics at Pines Middle School in Pembroke Pines.

Christene Stewart, middle school teacher: “I am struggling financially.”

Despite decades of classroom experience, she makes less than $60,000 a year. She can’t afford the $20,000 repair job needed to patch her leaking roof.

Christene Stewart: “Lately, I’ve been finding myself suffering from anxiety.”

Now Christene’s second bedroom, living room and garage are filled with boxes of clothes.

When she’s not teaching, she’s working on her website that sells women’s clothing. She needs sales to earn extra cash.

Kevin Ozebek: “Did you ever think when you entered into teaching that this is where you would end up?”

Christene Stewart: “Not in a million [years].”

Inflation and skyrocketing real estate are hitting teachers especially hard.

The starting yearly salary for Miami-Dade County Public Schools teachers is just $47,717. In Broward County, it’s $47,500.

Anna Fusco, president, Broward Teachers Union: “I have teachers that are telling me that they are getting eviction notices.”

Anna Fusco is the president of the Broward Teachers Union. She says right now, one of her teachers is homeless.

Anna Fusco: “We have her comfortable in a hotel, but before that, unfortunately, she was staying in a car in a parking lot.”

While that teacher’s story may be an extreme case, Jamie’s and Christene’s are not. Even before the cost of living surged, one in six teachers was working a second job.

Kevin Ozebek: “Are you contemplating leaving the profession?”

Christene Stewart: “I’ve been thinking about it.”

But Christene says the love for her students keeps her going.

It’s also what fuels Jamie during those long nights making deliveries.

Jamie Delerme: “If I did not enjoy teaching, then I can promise you that I would be in another career.”

But for now, evenings on the road, or at home struggling to start a business, is the price these teachers pay for their passion of educating our kids.

Kevin Ozebek, 7News.

CONTACT 7INVESTIGATES:
305-627-CLUE
954-921-CLUE
7Investigates@wsvn.com

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