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Despite raises, award-winning Arizona teacher doesn’t regret leaving job

(LinkedIn Photo/Mallory Heath)

KTAR News 92.3 FM continues to cover education in Arizona. This week’s focus is on “The Changing Face of the Arizona Teacher.”

PHOENIX — Despite pay raises being implemented throughout the state, an award-winning teacher who left the Arizona education system for financial reasons said she doesn’t regret her decision.

Mallory Heath taught for six years at Basha High School in Chandler and won the 2017 Developing Leader Award from The Arizona English Teacher’s Association.

In March, a month before the Red for Ed movement spearheaded the statewide teacher walkouts that would prompt lawmakers to approve pay raises, Heath said she was wouldn’t be returning to her post after the school year.

On Monday, she told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac and Gaydos she made the right decision.

“I am so sad to leave the teaching profession,” she said. “It really is something I felt called to do.

“But that being said, the job that I’ve stepped into is going to give more than that. As far as finances go, I’m not regretting my decision.”

Heath found a new position as a literacy curriculum specialist with educational services company Pearson.

“It was quite a pay increase,” she said.

Heath said she’d been making a base salary of $41,000 per year as a teacher, but after taxes and deductions for retirement funding, she ended up taking home closer to $28,000.

In early May, after a six-day teacher walkout that included daily rallies at the Arizona Capitol, Gov. Doug Ducey signed a budget that includes a 20 percent increase in teacher pay by 2020, including 10 percent for the coming year.

That was too little, too late for Heath.

“That 20 percent raise, I still would not have been able to independently make my ends meet. So for me, the teaching profession was an impossibility,” she said.

“It wasn’t that I just chose to walk away; it was that I really had been backed into a corner and I had no other choice unless I really wanted to put my mental health in jeopardy by taking on additional jobs.”

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