Wachsmann leaves Mac to put family first

Citing mental health, financial concerns, social studies teacher leaves job midway through the school year


Devin Neal

Social studies teacher Kristen Wachsmann bids her eighth-period class goodbye on Thursday, her last day at McCallum. Wachsmann leaving is part of a larger trend of broken trust between teachers and the district over budget concerns. “I’m very grateful for anyone that continues to teach because it’s an incredibly difficult job,” Wachsmann said. “I’ll be rooting for teachers, schools and students from the sidelines and doing my part to keep elected officials accountable to what we want.”

Lanie Sepehri, staff reporter

During fourth period on Monday, social studies teacher Kristen Wachsmann announced to her students that they needed to have a talk. The class thought they had done something wrong, but the news that followed was so surprising that they wished they really were in trouble. Wachsmann told them that, after an 11-year career in education, she would be leaving her job that Thursday to pursue a different path.

“When she told us she was leaving, I was very sad,” sophomore Ruby LaWare said. “I was disappointed because she was a really great teacher, and I learned so much from her this year.”

Ultimately, [teaching] is not sustainable financially, emotionally and for my well-being.

— Kristen Wachsmann

Wachsmann explained that while she remains passionate about teaching, it was no longer feasible for her to continue in the profession.

“I’m leaving to take care of myself, to take care of my family, my mental health and the health of my family,” Wachsmann told MacJournalism. “Ultimately, [teaching] is not sustainable financially, emotionally and for my well-being.”

Wachsmann is the latest in a series of faculty departures. Teachers leaving throughout the school year can be linked to their overall frustrations with the disproportionate workload-pay ratio throughout the district. For Wachsmann, exasperation over the district’s budget plans, such as the proposed and since abandoned seven-out-of-eight class schedule for teachers, contributed to the desire to leave the profession she loves.

“People will continue to have to fight for the profession and for schools,” Wachsmann said. “Everyone needs to fight, but who is powerful in this fight? Unfortunately, it’s not teachers. Teachers are very good at complaining—I say that as a teacher who loves to complain—but our complaints don’t really get a lot of results.”

For this reason, Wachsmann decided to take a job in sales at a tech company.

“I’m hopeful that I’ll have a better work-life balance, that I’ll be able to spend more time with my son and my husband,” Wachsmann said. “Not only do I hope I can spend more time, but I hope it can be of higher quality time. That I won’t bring so much emotional baggage home so I can be more present and be a better mom, wife, friend and sister.”

I’m happy that she’s doing what’s best for her. She’s been a really wonderful teacher for all of us, and I’m very grateful for the impact she had on me.

— sophomore Francesca Dietz

Wachmann’s students, however, felt the uncertainty of a new adjustment when the school year’s routines were well established. Despite this, sophomore Francesca Dietz believes Wachsmann has set her students up to continue succeeding on their own.

“I was quite surprised when I first heard the news, but I’m happy that she’s doing what’s best for her,” Dietz said. “She’s been a really wonderful teacher for all of us, and I’m very grateful for the impact she had on me.”

The feeling is mutual for Wachsmann.

“My students are the best part of the job,” she said. “I’ve worked at five schools in two cities and two countries and McCallum is my favorite school I’ve ever worked at. I really enjoy the creativity that happens here in the community. I think overall it’s a very welcoming place.”

Wachsmann will be missed by her many world history students, but she is proud of the work they’ve done.

“It’s been a pleasure getting to know them,” Wachsmann said. “It gives me hope for the future. I admire their values, hard work, and grit, and I wish them all the luck.”

—with reporting by Morgan Eye