Johnston High School - 6500 NW 100th St, Johnston, IA
  • Teachers take second jobs
    • Chris Beguhn
    • Katie Black
    • John Chai
    • Dave Oldham

Educators in the outside world

May 21, 2018

As kids, we all remember at one point or another we would joke about teachers who lived in the school building. They slept under their desks and ate in the cafeteria. However, as we grew up we realized that this couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, some teachers even have second jobs.

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Chris Beguhn

Science teacher Chris Beguhn has been working at Canoyers Garden Center since it opened five years ago. “At the time I just got out of being a club sponsor, and my family was concerned that if I didn’t find something to keep me busy I would just find more jobs for them,” Beguhn said. “They strongly encouraged me to apply. I like plants, I like gardening.”

The store is open from March 1 to Christmas and functions during January and February to plant their products. Most of the time during the school year Beguhn works two days a week plus weekends. “I’ve never seen my paycheck, I’ve no idea what I get paid, and I have no idea what days are payday,” Beguhn said.

Her husband will look at what she made vs what she spent at the greenhouse. If they’re ahead, then Beguhn made more than she spent. Beguhn doesn’t do the job for the money.  “I like to refer to it as my gym membership I get paid to have, because there’s a lot of walking and running around this time of year,” Beguhn said.

Beguhn also likes that it keeps her from getting bored and watching TV. Time management is a big thing that can be a problem and a plus, especially because there are days when the Garden Center is very time consuming. Similar to kids in activities, it makes Beguhn stay on schedule so everything gets done. “The downside is that I won’t grade all those lab notebooks tonight, but that’s also a benefit.”

Beguhn is considered the shift manager at Canoyers. She directs and trains the other staff, including the high schoolers that she has previously met during school. “Most of them, I knew their name because of silver cord and now I get to know them outside [of school],” Beguhn said. “The challenge this year is that the kids have to learn some more about plants because they’re short the adult staff or the plant knowledge people.”

It places a little more pressure on Beguhn than in previous years because she answers the majority of customer’s questions while simultaneously teaching the new employees. Beguhn is the go to about plants for everyone. “Even the boss will come to me sometimes,” Beguhn said. “He’s got the smarts on plants, but he doesn’t have the hands on experience.”

Beguhn has a three acre garden that she has been tending to. It helped her learn what works in specific soil and areas. “If something wasn’t working I’d just move it somewhere else,” Beguhn said.

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Katie Black

Art teacher Katie Black has been working since age 14 and has always had a second job. She worked at the Des Moines Art Center for seven summers and teaching at the school simultaneously. “I’ve always had to have a second job. There’s only one summer I didn’t, and that was the summer after my son was born.” Black said. “There was no way out of it, we just couldn’t make the money.”

Black taught morning and evening sessions for the kids camps all day during the summers.

Four years ago Black started worked at a company recently created by her friend Connie Pruitt. The company, El Arte Uncorked, teaches a variety of classes ranging from fundraisers, bachelorette parties, and home decor. “I was one of her employees that taught the classes,” Black said.

After owning the business for a while, Pruitt decided to it was time to slow down. “She’s a grandma now, and she wanted to spend time with her grandkids and her kids,” Black said.

Two years ago, Black purchased El Arte Uncorked and began the process of scheduling and hiring staff. The company does two to six events a week, and Black teaches around three of them. The others are delegated to one of her two teaching staff. Black is in charge of updating the website and Facebook page in addition to all of the scheduling and planning, though recently she hired another employee to do the monthly newsletters for her.

Some of the events are private and some are for fundraisers. Depending on what the party is wanting, Black will give them more or less advanced instructions. “Basically I’m Bob Ross but simplified,” said Black.  “People aren’t necessarily coming to learn the ins and outs and all about color theory and all that.”

The weekly public classes are held at Felix and Oscars most of the time. During the weeknights, there is an entire side of the restaurant that stays closed down, and Black is able to hold classes there. It’s a social painting class. “They come to have dinner and enjoy themselves and to take a painting home with them,” Black said.

The two current favorite classes are painting on milled logs and ‘Paint Your Pet’ events. Paint Your Pet is a fundraiser event, where half of the proceeds go to the Animal Rescue League. “It just fills every month,” Black said. “We’ve raised thousands and thousands for the animal shelter.”

Black has made some fun connections with her students and the businesses that she paired with to hold events. “A friend of mine, and I call her a friend now, she was bringing her son to the kids classes and we would just get talking,” Black said. “She’s actually referred my business a couple times; I worked at her sister’s bachelorette party and some birthday parties, stuff like that.”

One of her other contacts is Cupcake Addict, where she’s held birthday parties and kids classes. I’d really like to know what it’s like just to teach, because I’ve always had to work during the school year too,” Black said, “Mostly that’s because of student loans.” Black graduated around 10 years ago and is only six months away from paying off her debts.

Shabana Gupta

It gets to be a lot at times. Black puts enough time into the business to qualify it as a full time job. “I struggle to put the time where it’s needed because I’m spread so thin, I feel like I don’t do anything well,” she said. “It feels like I’m just doing immediately what has to be done, and that’s all there’s time for each day.”

In approximately a year Black plans to think about what to do with the business. There is a possibility of selling so she has time for family again. Black does get creative when planning out family time. “Now that my kids are getting older my son can probably handle [coming to classes],” Black said.

Her son is seven, while her daughter is four. “They like to carry stuff in and set up the easels and stuff like that,” Black said.

During classes, Black’s mother-in-law comes to watch the kids while Black is teaching.

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John Chai

Science teacher John Chai instructs strength training once a week at Farrell’s eXtreme Bodyshaping and at times subs in for kickboxing. One of the big reasons Chai instructs there is so he is able to go to the gym on a free membership. Recently Chai has been running at a different gym or going outside instead of going to his regular gym for workout. “It didn’t take long for my boss to call me out on my poor attendance, so it helps hold me accountable so I can’t be lazy and take time off,” Chai said.

Money is less of an issue for Chai. “I think I get paid seven dollars after taxes,” Chai said. “It’s definitely not something I use to be financially stable.” Chai doesn’t think of it as a job, more of a hobby.

Time constraints can be a problem at times, however. “If there’s something I have to work on here on a Thursday in the evening, I have to find someone to fill in.” Chai said.

The job works out well with the times for his and Beguhn’s schedules. Both of them are physics teachers, and their days for working second jobs compliment. If kids need to stay late, they can tag-team on different days.

Some kids from class have asked Chai about where he works so they can all go visit the gym in a group. So far that hasn’t happened yet. “There are a couple high schoolers there, but it’s on the south side so it’s mostly Lincoln kids that go,” Chai said.

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Dave Oldham

Shabana Gupta

For the past three years, Oldham has made sure to have a second job for summer lined up before the school year ended. In the past he has worked as a chemistry researcher at Iowa State University and for the Governing STEM council. This summer, Oldham plans to work as a baseball umpire and hopefully a firefighter. “God willing I get the firefighter gig, I’ll basically be working every Saturday night which is fine because otherwise I’m just going to bed at nine o’clock,” Oldham said.

Firefighters are paid relatively well, and Oldham has the extra motivation because his dad was a firefighter for 25 years. Second jobs give him an opportunity to do something with his summer that he actually enjoys and to explore different interests that he otherwise be able to try.

Before getting married, Oldham would travel during the summers he wasn’t working. “When I was in Germany I would travel all over Europe,” he said.

Summers in Colombia mainly consisted of flying back to the States or doing something within Colombia. Now he mainly hangs out with his kids and wife.

Oldham sees multiple benefits to having a second job.“[They make] you appreciate the fact that you’re a teacher and allows you to do things besides teach every day,” Oldham said. “I just feel like it gives me a lot of opportunities to interact with other humans besides 17 year olds.” 

Money is also a motivator. He and his wife, Meghan Oldham, have two kids and are hoping for a third. “About 30% of my salary I never see,” Oldham said. “But that’s okay because I’m a teacher and that’s what I chose to do and I am fortunate enough to have summers off.” 

Meghan is also a teacher and has summers off, so she stays with their youngest while their oldest goes to preschool. 

His jobs at Germany and Colombia paid around the same amount as he currently makes at Johnston. “I’ve always been really fortunate to make a lot of money as a teacher, because I came from inner city Texas where I made more than I do now,” Oldham said.

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