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Teachers At Phoenix School Choose Field Trip Over Walkout

RedForEd rally
Jackie Hai/KJZZ
#RedForEd supporters march at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix on April 27, 2018.

In the midst of a historic walkout, some Arizona teachers reported for work Thursday.

Julie Schenk teaches fifth grade at Fireside Elementary in the Paradise Valley School District. Even though she supports the strike, she and her colleagues showed up to work Thursday to wrangle their kids onto buses and head north to a camp in Prescott.

The trip is a rite of passage for fifth graders at the school.

“We knew that this was what we needed to do for the kids,” Schenk said. “The hard part is not being there with our colleagues.”

She’s been an Arizona educator for 10 years, and before that, she worked in Chicago. That’s part of what’s made the state’s low salaries so frustrating.

“I still don’t make what I made in Chicago in 1997,” Schenk said of her salary.

RELATED: Estimated Crowd Of 50,000 March For #RedForEd In Downtown Phoenix

Fellow fifth-grade teacher Mary Ann Neill estimated she makes $180 more per paycheck than when she started teaching in 2001. She has since earned a master’s degree.

“We’ve been suffering for a while,” Neill said.

The teachers aren’t sure what will have happened when they return from their field trip Friday night, but they hopes change is coming.

Mariana Dale rustles up stories as a senior field correspondent based out of KJZZ’s East Valley Bureau in Tempe. She’s followed a microphone onto cattle ranches, to the Dominican Republic and many places in between. Dale believes in a story’s strength to introduce us to diverse perspectives, inspire curiosity and hold public leaders accountable for their actions. She started at KJZZ on the digital team in 2016 and still spends a lot of time thinking about how to engage with our community online. Dale has learned from stints at Arizona Public Media, The Arizona Daily Star, The Arizona Republic and as an intern at NPR’s Morning Edition in Culver City. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Dale is grateful for the mentoring of the New York Times Student Journalism Institute, the Chips Quinn Scholars program and AIR’s New Voices Scholars. A desert native, she loves spending time outside hiking, tending to her cactus and reading.