Middle school English teacher Sam Pearce moonlights as a fashion model, where he goes by the stage name Sam Worthen. (Photo: Barry Williams/New York Daily News)
It’s not unusual for teachers to have second jobs to make extra money – some tutor or babysit or coach after-school teams. But one English teacher’s side gig takes him to runways in Milan or photo shoots in London.
By day, 24-year-old Sam Pearce teaches eighth-grade English at a public middle school in Brooklyn. But during evenings, weekends or school vacations, Pearce works as a model, showing off the high fashions of designers like Tazaca, Patrik Ervell, DKNY and Alexander McQueen under the stage name Sam Worthen.
While modeling may sound like a more glamorous profession than teaching, Pearce told the NY Daily News that his students will always be his first priority. “I will never accept a modeling job that compromises my students’ learning,” he said, pointing out that he’d rather pass on a modeling gig than skip a day of school. “There are so many models who can do a job with equal results, but a substitute teacher, no matter how qualified, is never going to get the same results in the classroom.”
As a high-fashion model, Sam Worthen has worked for Alexander McQueen, DKNY, Tazaca, and Patrik Ervell. (Photo: RED NYC)
Pearce, who hasn’t revealed the name of the school where he works, wasn’t available for comment Wednesday morning—it is a school day, after all. “We can’t ask him to interfere with his school schedule,” said Neil Mautone, owner of RED NYC, the modeling agency that represents Pearce. “He’s very committed to his class.”
Mautone says it’s not uncommon for models to have second careers. “We have other models buried in studies and artistic endeavors and philanthropy,” he says. “People think male models are all like Zoolander, but it’s so far from that.”
When he’s not teaching eighth grade as Mr. Pearce, model Sam Worthen walks the runway. (Photo: RED NYC)
Pearce’s dedication to teaching only adds to his modeling skills, Mautone says. “He is very professional. He loves teaching, and has an enjoyment of his work that he brings to the set. It’s a dynamic of energy and creativity,” he says. “For Sam, it’s not just about wearing a beautiful outfit, it’s about working as a team. It’s like what he dreams for his students—that they are enamored of things that go on in class. He brings that energy to his work.”
As a teacher, Pearce makes $48,455 a year, according to the New York Daily News. In 2013, the average male model made $27,907 per year, according to Forbes.com, which means Pearce could increase his salary by more than 50 percent annually.
Still in his first year of modeling, Pearce has been able to make the double-life work. He modeled in London on Sunday, Jan. 11, making it back in time for school on Monday, according to the New York Daily News. During the long weekend for Martin Luther King Day, he worked in Milan, and walked New York Fashion Week during Winter Break.
At school, Sam Pearce hopes to instill eighth graders with a love of reading. (Photo: RED NYC)
Pearce uses some of his extra income on books for his students, according to a GoFundMe page he has created to raise funds to build out his classroom library. “Far too many New York City students do not have adequate access to books, and I am just one of many teachers who spend a significant part of their income on materials. I am fortunate to have received publicity, through my work in fashion, and I am hoping to convert it into books for my kids,” he writes on the page. “My students have to read 20 minutes and reflect in 20 lines of writing every night. While some have books at home, most rely on our classroom library. Reluctant readers need the right book. So far, I have seen four transform into hour-a-night readers through discovering Harry Potter and Oscar Wao. I know my students’ interests, reading levels, and what books each has liked and disliked. When they trade me finished books for new ones, I ask them to describe the book they want to read next. Then I search the web, Barnes & Noble, my brain, and other teachers’ to find and buy the closest match.”
Pearce is hoping to raise $3,000, enough to provide each student with three books.
That’s what we call a true role model.