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October 1, 2020

Aptos High teacher hopes to create program to help students, educators

WATSONVILLE—As a new teacher, Brogan Dahl knows how difficult it can be to live in Santa Cruz County on an educator’s salary. She also has experienced the frustration of wanting to bring creativity into her lessons while under the limiting mantle of a strict curriculum. 

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She hopes she can change both of those problems with Rad Academy, which would allow teachers to create their own extra-curricular courses, and get paid to teach them. A total of 10 teachers have already signaled their interest, she said.

Dahl, 31, teaches ethnic studies and world literature at Aptos High School.

The program has moved out of the idea stage into the startup phase, she said, and she is now turning to the public for help via a GoFundMe page.

She is also looking for a venue to hold classes, which might range from personal finance for teens to Spanish for younger speakers to science, technology, engineering and mathematics classes. 

“This is a way to offer teachers a chance to make extra money on the side to supplement their income, while helping students get help with things not offered in the curriculum,” she said.

Under the current plan, teachers would earn $60 per hour. That extra income could make a big difference for teachers.

Dahl said that educators in Pajaro Valley Unified School District often leave in search of higher-paying jobs over the hill, while many leave the profession entirely.

She pointed to a study by University of Pennsylvania education professor Richard Ingersoll, which shows that 44 percent of teachers quit during their first five years.

That’s a troubling statistic, she said, for a job that carries so much importance. 

In addition to their regular duties, educators serve as de facto counselors and emotional support for their students, she said.

“Many of us are the most stable adults in their lives,” she said. “It’s a career that isn’t getting the respect it deserves.”

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To make a contribution to Rad Academy, visit www.gofundme.com/f/radacademy.

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