Teacher Salary Stories: A Kentucky Librarian With Nearly 30 Years Experience Earning $66,000 in 2024

She says teacher salaries should reflect the high honor and responsibility of educating the next generation.

Teacher salary stories image with Kentucky quote

In our new series Teacher Salary Stories, We Are Teachers readers share how they’re making it work—or not—on a teacher’s salary. The goal is to take an honest look at teacher pay in the United States and around the world—what’s working, what’s not, and what needs to change if we want to stem the flow of educators leaving the profession and recruit new teachers to the field.

In today’s Teacher Salary Story, a teacher librarian from Gilbertsville, Kentucky, with 29 years of experience, shares her financial journey from starting at $25,000 to earning $66,000 annually. Having funded her education through scholarships, grants, part-time work, and family support, she details her income progression, including standard step increases, earning an advanced degree, and transitioning roles. Despite the challenges, her story highlights the realities of teacher compensation, career dedication, and the impact of financial decisions on her life and family.

Where do you live?

Gilbertsville, Kentucky.

What is your job title?

Teacher librarian.

What is your annual salary?


What is your highest level of education?


Master’s degree.

How did you pay for your education?

I funded my education through a combination of scholarships, grants, part-time work, and financial support from my family.

How long have you been teaching? Is this your first career?

Twenty-nine years. No, I was a day-care center director for a few years.

What was your starting salary as a teacher?


Tell us about your income progression (e.g., have you received standard step increases, taken on extra duties, gotten an advanced degree, or switched roles?).

I have received standard step increases, gotten an advanced degree, and switched roles to that of school librarian, which came with a small stipend. Additionally, through the years, I have taken on extra duties such as before- and after-school care, tutoring, and teaching summer school.

The biggest change in my income came when my family moved from Georgia, where I began my career, to Kentucky, where I teach now. In the spring of 2009, I finished the year at a salary right around $60,000. Georgia pays teachers well for getting their master’s or further education. When I began teaching in Kentucky one year later (after a year as a teacher’s aide), my salary was just over $40,000. This year, after moving to a larger county that is less rural, I will be making about $66,000. This amount is far less than my three siblings, only one of whom has comparable education.

How much is one paycheck, after taxes, and how often are you paid?

$4,272 per month.

What is your approximate net worth including savings, investments, retirement, and other assets?

I do not have that info available at this time.

How many people live in your household? Are you the only earner?

Two people. No, my husband works full-time as well.

What are your approximate monthly expenses (e.g., rent/mortgage, car payment or other loans, childcare, food, entertainment, phone/Internet/utilities, other subscriptions)? 

Mortgage and housing-related expenses: $2,500
Car payment & loan for remodel of bathroom: $1,000
Food/entertainment: $800
Insurance, gas, cell phones, gym membership: $500

Do you receive a school- or PTA-provided budget for classroom supplies? If so, how much?

No, some supplies are provided by the school and students bring some.

How much of your own money do you spend on your classroom every year?

$500+ on my classroom and my students. I can’t stand to see a kid go without things that everyone else is getting or for a kid to wear the same shirt every day because it is all they have.

What kinds of things do you buy when you treat yourself?

Clothes, jewelry, dinner out.

What expense would you take on if you suddenly got an extra $1,000 per paycheck?

Purchase new kitchen appliances.

How does your district handle retirement? Will you receive a pension?

I will receive retirement from Kentucky and Georgia teacher retirement systems.

Do you have any secondary sources of income, like a side hustle or another job?

I am a Mary Kay consultant.

How satisfied are you with your teaching salary on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being very satisfied and 1 being not at all satisfied? Please explain.

2. A low salary, in comparison to others who have similar education and work as hard as I do, is another symptom of the disrespect that society as a whole has for educators. My finances would be a total wreck if my husband had not always earned more than I did. If not for his salary, our children would have college debt and we would certainly not have the same standard of living. I am so sad for my friends who are single moms or dads trying to make ends meet on a teacher salary. Almost all work at least one other job and struggle to provide for their families.

Has your current and/or future salary impacted your decision-making around other major life choices (e.g., where you live, whether you rent/own, whether or not to have kids, etc.)? Please explain.

It has made us less able to travel and do other things we love. We have also put off home repairs and updates because of it.

Do you plan to stay in education?

No, I will retire as soon as I am able to do so. I will most likely work part-time after retirement but not in education.

Do you have any other thoughts about teacher pay that you’d like to share?

[Former Ford president] Lee Iacocca said, “In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honor and the highest responsibility anyone could have.” This quote shows the respect that society should have for teachers and this respect should be evidenced by their salaries.

Are you interested in participating in our Teacher Salary Stories project? Fill out the Google Form here. If we choose your story for publication, we will notify you and send you a $150 gift card. All responses will be published anonymously.