Don Kotschevar teaches high school in the small town of Mullan in
north Idaho's remote Silver Valley. He is the assistant principal,
basketball coach and shop teacher. Lately, Kotschevar has been
questioning his own career path. He watches his students parlay the
skills he teaches them in this industrial mechanics class into lucrative
of them, in the first six, eight months, their salaries absolutely
crush mine," Kotschevar says. Entry-level mine jobs can pay $50,000 a
year. Kotschevar has been thinking he could get a similar offer from
local mine bosses.
"You know, I've got nine
more years, so I can get my retirement here, and then when I retire I'll
probably go to see if they'll hire me. Hopefully I won't be too old,"
he says. "I've been in teaching — I need to have a retirement plan."
But mining salaries have risen. The average mine worker in the Silver Valley now makes $70,000 — some make six figures.
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