For these NYC educators, teaching gigs bring in enough bank to let their freak come out at night.
Wed Jun 4 2008
Photograph: Donna Rickles
Scott Weber, 42
Lives: Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Teaches: Biology at Brooklyn Technical High School, Fort Greene
What is your “real” job? My “real job” is to become a fully realized human being, and I find great joy in this every day. When I am a teacher, that comes first. When I act and puppeteer, that comes first. I’m in a puppet group called Drama of Works.
Why choose teaching as a second job? I’ve always loved science, and the steady paycheck is nice. And due to the time off, I can concentrate on performing over the summer. This past summer and fall I was in Die Hard: The Puppet Musical.
Does puppeteering pay well? Well, I don’t get paid much, although my group just got a sweet grant for a shadow-puppet show for Nokia.
CHEAP TIP: “I try to live by a Depression-era saying, ‘Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without’—I don’t own a car and I buy maybe one pair of shoes a year.”
Photograph: Meghan Petersen
Scott Neagle, a.k.a. the Mangoose, 25
Lives: Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn
Teaches: Math and music to students ages 17–21 at Brownsville Academy, Brownsville, Brooklyn
What is your “real” job? I play guitar and electronics in Big Bang TV, an experimental-electro-post-indie-rock-hop band. I’m also one half of Heavy Jamal, a futurist literary wobble-wobble rap group based on the novels of Henry James. Oh, and I deejay a lot of parties in Brooklyn.
What’s “wobble-wobble”? It’s the genre that my MC made up to describe our music.
Why choose teaching as a second job? It gives me lots of time to play music, and I’m out of work early every day. Steady income and health insurance don’t hurt either. The only thing that’s lame is the fact that I have to be at work at 7:30am, so it’s kinda painful if I was deejaying until 4am.
CHEAP TIP: “Teachers, get that per-session rate! Or get a summer job. I’m teaching sailing in Maine. I don’t have any other tips; I’m actually really bad at saving money.”
Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello
Patricia O’Rourke, 44
Lives: Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Teaches: Computer graphics at Long Island City High School, Queens
What is your “real” job? Feminist artist
Why choose teaching as a second job? I want to make a difference—plus we get great benefits, like vacations and pension. Though I’ve shown at museums and sold some pieces, I need to keep my day job.
What’s your art like? Though my art now focuses on gentrification, in the past I’ve created huge four-foot vaginas—the show was called “The Vagina Openings”—and I’ve done a few pieces with my own pubic hair on handmade paper stretched over canvas. Also, I created a series of paper condos that had dick heads, because the first few condos in Williamsburg were so phallic-looking.
What do your students think about your art? I have to be tactful about what I say in class. But the rest of the time I’m an artist—I’m free to express all my creativity.
Do your bosses know? I don’t feel I have to keep it quiet, they know. When I exhibit, I bring postcards and show them in the teacher center.
CHEAP TIP: “Drive a beat-up 1994 Prizm and don’t get a new paint job—just don’t park anywhere near the school parking lot!”
Photograph: Donna Rickles
John Pearson, 36
Lives: Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Teaches: English as a second language at New Utrecht High School, Bensonhurst, Brooklyn
What is your “real” job? I’m an outlaw artist. I’m into graffiti and changing New York’s urban environment.
How? Most of my work involves going out at night or early morning and either spray-painting stencils, wheatpasting or bolting up boards throughout the city. I also get paid to do my art on legal walls.
Why choose teaching as a second job? It affords me the true flexibility to concentrate on my art. Being in touch with urban youth keeps my ideas fresh and my heart in it. For me graffiti is about taking back public space, and in that sense I think that it’s really not too far off from the goals of education: to empower young minds to change the system.
What do your students think? They’re down—a lot of the cool kids, at least—but I keep my classroom graffiti-free.
CHEAP TIP: “The thing about the Board of Education is that there are always opportunities after school, like tutoring and summer school. You have to be certified by the BOE, but there are tons of opportunities once you pass your paperwork.” (For info go to schools.nyc.gov/offices/dhr/careeropportunities/default.htm.)