TUCSON, Ariz. - As teachers across southern Arizona kick off a new school year, there are teachers out there who have decided not to return to the classroom.
Among those is Mandy Mohr. A mother of two who made the decision to step away from her elementary school teaching job two years ago.
Mohr was previously a fifth grade teacher, a job she said she was extremely passionate about.
"The kids are witty and funny and you can be sarcastic with them and the relationship you get to have with them one on one is really special," said Mohr.
The decision to leave the job she loved so much behind came last year. Mohr said she felt she had to make this decision to better support her family financially.
"Bigger family trying to you know, meet our means, so that paycheck was something that definitely made me decide to leave the classroom sooner than I wanted to."
Mohr added that at the time she was a school teacher pay issues were very much at the forefront of her mind and others'.
"I know it's a struggle, it's not just me," said Mohr.
Margaret Chaney, the president of the Tucson Education Association told KGUN9 that while she does hear about a couple of teachers choosing to leave the job because of pay, it doesn't happen too often.
"I think a lot of teachers who are new to the profession come into it thinking, 'OK this is where I was meant to be' or 'this is a great way to pay off my student loan' and it's not," said Chaney.
Chaney said when it comes to pay, more action needs to be taken by the Arizona state government.
KGUN9 reached out to Governor Doug Ducey's office about what they are doing to encourage teachers to stay in their positions.
The Governor's office provided the statement below.
"We know teachers are some of the biggest difference makers in the lives of our students. That's why Governor Ducey has made it a priority to reward our hardworking teachers with pay raises and get more, qualified educators into the classroom. This year's balanced budget proposal fulfills the second year of the 20x2020 proposal to raise teacher salaries 20% by 2020. School districts throughout Southern Arizona are meeting and exceeding these raises. This year's budget also adds $15 million to expand the Arizona Teachers Academy, a program that allows future teachers to graduate from an Arizona public university debt-free. With the new funding, the Teachers Academy is expected to grow to about 3,000 students. We know we can always do more and will continue to prioritize Arizona's teachers and students."
As for Mohr, despite leaving her classroom teaching job, she still works within the education field.
Mohr took a higher paying job in administration in which she helps students who need it.
"I really love what I do now in the education field. I feel like I'm making a difference still because my position helps identify at-risk kids and kids who might be falling through the cracks," said Mohr.
That, however, isn't all Mohr does. She also teaches online English to students in Beijing, a job she said helps bring more money into her household.
All decision she says have made a positive impact in her life.
"It's worth it to know I'm in a position to give my sons what they need and to spoil them and you know, to make a good home for them," said Mohr.
Just last month the Tucson Unified School District approved raises for teachers at various experience levels.
First-year teachers who were hired for this schools year will receive $40,200 a year, which is a 23% increase from rates teachers made four years ago.