During the week, Tula Zazania works full-time teaching art to junior high school students. On weekends, she often sees her students again -- in the K Mart Discount Store in Leesburg, where she works as a cash clerk.
"It really makes me mad, but there isn't much I can do about it, " says Zazanis. "It just bothers me; here I went to college for six years and I'm not making as much as people Know who didn't even go to college."
Zazanis is one of what area school officials say is a growing number of teachers who moonlight -- hold down two and even three jobs in the face of an inflation rate that is expanding twice as fast as their paychecks.
Pulling in an annual salary of $10,600 in her third year of teaching in the Loudoun County school system, Zazanis says she couldn't make ends meet without her $3.35-an-hour pay from K Mart.
While acknowledging that some teachers may be caught in the economic squeeze, Supervisor Audrey Moore (D-Annandale) of neighboring Fairfax County contends the situation is not unique to the teaching profession.
"A lot of people are finding they have to work second jobs these days," Moore says.
A recent survey by the Loudoun Education Association, a teacher group that counts 580 of Loudoun's 880 teachers among its members found that more than half of those who responded were working second and third jobs.
The situation in Loudoun County is especially pronounced because its teacher salaries lag behind those of the other Northern Virginia jurisdictions, but other area teachers say they are feeling the pinch as well.
Teachers' groups in Alexandria and Arlington report that up to 50 percent of their members hold second jobs, ranging from electrical work and plumbing to waiting on tables. The Fairfax Education Association says about 20 percent of its members are moonlighting.
School administration officials, generally skeptical of teacher salary complaints at contract time, are quick to point out the seriousness f the moonlighting claim.
"Any time you get involved in more than one job, it's hard to put in your best efforts," says Loudoun school superintendent Robert E. Butt. "Before you know it, the primary job suffers and the children suffer."
"There is no question that our employes need better salaries than they are getting new, and I think it's time to recognize that."
Butt recently recommended a 15.6 percent increase in wages and benefits for Loudoun school employes, after five years in which their pay hikes lagged behind increases in the cost of living. Although he declines conjecture on his proposal's chances for passage, Butt says there is "no question that the board [of education] recognizes that this is a problem that has to be dealt with."
For Zazanis, Butt's remarks are cold comfort.
Pushed by increasing demands on her time and energy, she says, she found herself almost physically unable to cope in the classroom.
"When you go for two weeks without a day off, you get tired and irritable," she says. "Discipline got to be real difficult for me. There were a lot of times I just wanted to esacape from it all and run out of the room."
Elementary school teacher Joyce Jackson, who heads the Loudoun teacher group, says she began working a a security guard last October to supplement her $13,500 salary because she wanted to buy a $39,000 condominium. After nine years' experience as a teacher, she says, she found she had to moonlight an additional 25 to 35 hours a week to swing the deal.
"It has gotten to the point that just spending some time at home in the evening is a real luxury," says Jackson. "When I can do that, I'm in heaven."
Teachers like Jackson are sitting on "a keg of dynamite," says Gerry Gripper, president of the Fairfax Education Association. "They get on a treadmill, they don't get enough sleep, they become less efficient in their teaching and they start to feel guilty about it.
"More and more, teachers are dropping out, copping out or opting out because they're burned out."
Fairfax Supervisor Moore says Gripper's remarks are "clearly" a bid for higher wages, adding that Fairfax County teacher salaries are "way ahead of other local jurisdictions in Northern Virginia."
She says the Fairfax Board of Supervisors has an obligation to give the teachers a pending raise of at least 1.85 percent on the current year's contract, but declined to specualte on the likelihood of a larger raise next year.
Earlier this month, Fairfax school administrators agreed to seek a 10.4 percent pay raise for county teachers -- half the 20 percent raise the teachers association sought. The increase still must win approval of the school board and county supervisors.
In the last few months, the Fairfax teacher's group -- representing 6,500 of the county's 7,154 public school teachers -- says it has seen a dramatic increase in the number of requests for counseling on career alternatives and stress management.
Susan Bjork, a second and third grade teacher in Fairfax's Camelot Elementary School, says she thought two years ago that she would only be waitressing for a short while until her salary went up. But with the inflation rate outpacing her salary, Bjork says, she is forced to keep on working 20 to 35 hours a week at Valle's restaurant in Springfield to supplement her teaching pay.
At least three days a week, Bjork shuttles straight from school to the restaurant without a break, and works through until closing time.
"I drink a lot of coffee to stay awake," she says. "I bring a thermos with me every day."
With seven years' experience and a bachelor's degree, Bjork makes about $15,500 as a teacher.
The salaries of Fairax teachers along with their Arlington and Alexandria counterparts, hover at the highest average level in the state.
According to figures developed by the Virginia Education Association, Arlington teachers get the top average pay at $20,121. Ranked second is Falls Church, at $17,865; followed by Fairfax County, $17,305; Alexandria, $16,729, and Prince William County, $14,682.
Loudoun County ranks 55th with an average of $11,102.