Jon Hamm Says Teachers Should Be Paid More

Before “Don Draper” there was (the likely still as cool) “Jon Hamm, high school drama teacher” in St. Louis, Missouri. Hamm returned to his former high school for two years in his early 20s, teaching students such as Ellie Kemper (!!!) and even made friends with Paul Rudd while living in St. Louis. He says it was one of the jobs he had that taught him the most.

“I enjoyed it even more than I thought I would,” Hamm said of teaching. “The students were great, and I found myself learning something from them every day.”

But, Hamm says, there is a downside to teaching.

“Teachers in general are pretty under-respected and underpaid,” he recently told Wealthsimple. “That’s a real drag.”

While it’s not uncommon for celebrities to speak their minds, having actually worked in education, Hamm is pretty well-qualified to discuss the topic.

“Investing in higher teacher salaries is one of the most obvious things we could do to improve life in our society,” he said.

teaching photo
Getty Images | Peter Macdiarmid

The Sad Reality Of Teacher Salaries

According to, the average salary for U.S. teachers ranges from $43,619-$48,958, with elementary being the lowest and special education teachers being paid the most. The National Education Association says the average starting salary, however, is $30,377. The NEA also says research finds the annual pay for teachers has fallen over the past 60 years in relation to the annual pay of other workers with college degrees.

Since leaving teaching and having, what he says is, “a little success,” Hamm has established a college scholarship for John Burroughs High School students in his mother’s name.

“We just helped one kid to graduate college, and another one is working his way through right now,” he said. “That’s been a gratifying way for me to spend some money.”