A New Mexico teacher is going viral on TikTok for a video she posted where she tells her students she is quitting in the middle of the school year.
Mahalia Aponte, an 8th-grade social studies teacher at Garfield Middle School in Albuquerque, posted two TikTok videos on December 16 and 17. The first video, where she tells her students she's leaving, has over 850,000 views. She captioned it, "we have to value ourselves and demand that our districts pay us a liveable wage."
"OK so tomorrow is the last day of school. Yay, yay, yay," the video starts.
"Tomorrow is actually my last day with you guys, too. Let me explain," Aponte says to her class. You can hear students in the background yelling, "What!" in astonishment.
"I am not leaving because of you guys or because of Garfield," she added.
In a separate video posted the next day, Aponte explains the salary issue that prompted her to quit. She explains that she started working at Garfield Middle School later in the school year, causing her salary to be subsidized. According to KXAN, Aponte's salary was prorated from $51,000 to about $34,500.
In the TikTok, Aponte said other school districts have previously given her the option to choose if she wants her salary prorated between nine or 12 months. She said that this school district did not give her that option and she is on the 12 month pay period plan.
"Normally that wouldn't be a problem if I was making a full annual salary. But because my salary if very, very much smaller than what it would normally be — because I didn't start at the very beginning of the school year because I just moved — they are taking that smaller salary and still stretching it all the way until next August. So I'm not asking my district to pay me anything extra. I'm asking them to change the pay schedule so that way every month, every pay period, my checks are more than $1,100," Aponte said.
Aponte said she hopes this situation — although "really sad" — sparks change in how school districts treats its teachers.
"I'm probably going to move forward with asking (my school district) how they can change this for other teachers. But right now, I feel very defeated ... I love teaching and I love my kids and I hate that this happened," she said.
In the meantime, Aponte said she will continue with her "side hustle" of serving and bartending.