I recently had a conversation with a kind lady who is interested in teaching at Regents Academy. We talked through some preliminary matters. But I knew I was in the heart of the conversation when she asked, “How much do teachers at Regents make?” It’s a fair question; however, it is one that I secretly wince at. I thought you might be interested in hearing how I responded.
That’s a really good question. And I have a straight answer for you: not enough. Our teacher pay is low. But before I give you a specific answer, let me preface it with a few thoughts.
We are an independent, board-run Christian school. We don’t receive any funding from the outside: from government, from taxes, from a sponsoring organization, or from an endowment. All our income is from tuition and from fundraising. So this means we pay our teachers what our tuition will support. And our tuition is low, at least compared to other schools like ours. But our tuition is at a level that the school board believes our community can support. A few of our families could probably afford to pay more, but most of our families are paying all they can.
One consequence of low teacher pay is that our teachers aren’t punching a clock. They are not here for the cushy salary – that’s for sure. Our teachers are here because they love teaching and they love this school. They feel a wonderful freedom to engage in the craft of teaching in an orderly, loving, and inspiring context. They could leave tomorrow and find teaching jobs making much more, but they don’t want to. Their own children are being educated here, so they are truly in community with others who are sacrificing to provide the kind of excellent education that truly can only be found here. There’s just nothing else like us between Longview and Houston. We’re it, and our teachers sense that the mission and vision of this school is special. God is blessing it, and they want to be in on it.
Still, our teachers need to live. They earn every penny they are paid, and then some. The reality is that every one of our tuition-paying families receives an automatic scholarship funded by our teachers. The teachers don’t make a financial contribution directly, but they fund the scholarships with their sweat, love, and dedication. The gap between the amount of tuition paid and the actual value of the education given is covered by the sacrificial giving of our staff. And this is why we don’t feel any guilt asking school families to join in with fundraising efforts. It’s really the least they can do. Also, Regents parents do a lot to show appreciation to teachers, for which I am very thankful.
Having said all that, our school board is trying really hard to raise tuition at a careful pace in order to raise teacher salaries (which have risen substantially in the last few years), while balancing the growth needs of the school. They are working hard to find the proper balance.
If you want to teach at Regents, you have to come into it with your eyes open. We ask a lot of our teachers, without a lot of tangible reward. We look for ladies and gentlemen who love Christ, who have the God-given ability to teach, who love families, and who are properly credentialed. Then we ask them to step into what is to most a brand new teaching philosophy and excel at it, while loving learning and displaying the best of Christian character as an example to their students. That’s a high calling! But our teachers find that it is among the most rewarding experiences in the world. The tangible rewards might be low, but the intangible rewards are through the roof.
So, that’s a lot of words. To answer your question our beginning salary for full-time teachers is about one third what beginning teachers make in our local school district. Are you interested in filling out an application?
That’s pretty much how the conversation went. I meant every word of it. And I consider it a high privilege not only to be counted among the members of a faculty with such a high calling, but also to be the leader of this particular group of dedicated, talented, and Christ-loving teachers and professionals.