Before he made it big on “Mad Men,” actor Jon Hamm went back to his roots, returning to his old St. Louis high school to work as a drama teacher for two years.
Hamm told Wealthsimple that it was one of the jobs he’s held that taught him the most.
“It was a really progressive school — I felt that they had done so much to set me on a creative course, it was only fair to find a way to pay them back a little.
“I didn’t have a multimillion-dollar foundation or anything, so I decided I wanted to just give my time in a direct and personal way.”
However, the job came with some drawbacks, too.
“The downside is that teachers in general are pretty under-respected and underpaid,” he told Wealthsimple. “That’s a real drag.”
Having worked in education, Hamm discussed his own feelings about improvements to be made in the field — and society at large.
“Investing in higher teacher salaries is one of the most obvious things we could do to improve life in our society,” he said.
When it comes to paying teachers, the US ranks fifth in the world, according to data from the OECD. However, the wage gap between public school teachers and individuals in comparable professions yawns wider every year in the US, with teachers earning 17% less than their counterparts in other fields. As one woman wrote on Teachers United — in an essay republished in full by the Washington Post — “I love my students, I love my job, and I feel fulfilled. But I’m broke.”
Today, having found what he calls “a little success,” Hamm has established a college scholarship for John Burroughs students named after his mother, to thank the school for fostering his own creative ambitions.
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