Building up a whole different world

Feb. 25, 2020, 9:38 a.m. | By Joy Xu | 1 year, 7 months ago

Teachers take up side jobs ranging from starting businesses to waiting tables

“You’ll be surprised to know how many teachers have other jobs, mostly out of necessity. It is very expensive to live here and we have to supplement our income,” CAP Coordinator Sarah Fillman says. From managing a farm to becoming a published photographer, teachers often take up ‘side hustles' to subsidize their income or explore a wide range of passions not found in teaching. 

Below are just some of the stories of how teachers spend their time outside the classroom: 


Around 2013, CAP Coordinator Sarah Fillman was shooting a picture in front of a beautiful sunrise in New Zealand. A Korean man approached Fillman and asked how to take a picture like hers. Three days later, she ran into the man again in Australia. He was ecstatic and wanted to take a picture with her. “Only photography could break such barriers. The beauty of photography is timing moments just right so that the photos can conjure up feelings of fun, love, and happiness,” Fillman says.

Photo: CAP Coordinator Sarah Fillman started a photography business

Stories like the one above are what motivated Fillman to start her photography business, “FillmanFoto.” “I always loved photography, and when one of my best friends got married, I followed her photographer around for the night. I shadowed her for several events, took some photography business classes, and eventually created a business,” Fillman continues. 

With two businesses and a full-time teaching job, Fillman admits that she can go 3-4 weeks without a day off. “I started contracting off my editing, because during the busy spring/fall seasons, it can get overwhelming. I try to keep my teaching job and my photography business separate. When the busy season starts, I’m usually shooting every weekend, each event is six hours, and I’m carrying about 20 pounds worth of equipment,” Filman says. 

Because of her hard work, Fillman was recently published in the Bethesda Magazine for a photo of the wedding of one of CAVA’s co-founders. Although the photography business started just as a side gig, Fillman loves being able to apply a creative side in her everyday life. She takes pride in being the photographer for most CAP-related events and being called on to capture beautiful memories for others.

Find some of Sarah Fillman’s work on her website, FillmanFoto.

Takoma Sports Camp

“Last summer, we couldn't do our summer sports camp in Takoma Park, and we had to move it somewhere else because all the gyms were full. And the parents were like there's no way my kids are missing camp. We're going to rent a bus and get a driver to take them out there,” Physical Education teacher Louis Hoelman recalls, “That overwhelming sense of community that came together for my sports camp was amazing.”

Hoelman primarily focuses on fostering inclusion and community through his summer sports camp, “Takoma Sports Camp,” that has been running since 1997. “I used to teach elementary school PE, and all the parents wanted me to start a summer camp. I started off with baseball, but as time went on, my camp started becoming so popular that I added two weeks of baseball, three weeks of basketball, and one week of fast-pitch softball,” Hoelman says.

Hoelman comments that the most rewarding part of running a summer camp is seeing the smiles of kids’ faces. “[The kids] tell their parents that it’s their favorite camp. Since I’ve been running this for so long, I see individual kids’ growth throughout the years. They start when they are six or seven and come back to work for the camp when they’re about 17 or 18,” Hoelman continues.

Learn more about Takoma Sports Camp here

The Farm at Our House

“We live and die by the sweat of our brow. There is no safety net,” says Social Studies teacher Marc Grossman.

Grossman owns and manages a 12-acre farm in Brooksville, MD named “The Farm at Our House,” and he strongly believes that farming teaches students virtuous habits and values. Grossman’s farm caters to well-known restaurants like Addie’s, Dino’s Grotto and Blacks Market Bistro. He also runs a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) where community members can go pick up food. 

Like many, Grossman took a plunge into the deep end when he first started his farm. “In 2007, I was doing a summer program for MCPS. After they cut it, I did something crazy. I rented out six community garden plots in Rockville and somehow got myself to the farmer’s market in the morning. From there, I started a farm,” Grossman says.

Photo: Teacher Marc Grossman owns and operates a farm

For Grossman, the farming business wasn’t just to subsidize his income. “It’s been a hard road to tow. I could have just gotten a minimum wage job to gain more money back then. But, I was thinking in the long term and the benefits [it] could provide later,” Grossman continues.

A part of his farm’s philosophy is to introduce the next generation of high school students to sustainable living and agriculture. “Schools only teach an elementary introduction to the ideas of farming. I really want to expose kids to the next generation of sustainability, and we do that through summer internships,” Grossman says, “We teach students planting, weeding, harvesting and possibly marketing and sales.”

Grossman’s passion for farming comes from his interest in the developing world around him. “Farming creates this social fabric that bonds people together in a community and also provides revenues critical for making government. I don’t think many people think about it or appreciate it enough,” Grossman concludes.

Learn more about “The Farm at Our House.”

Last updated: Feb. 25, 2020, 9:39 a.m.

Tags: Digital Photography Jobs teachers

Joy Xu. Hi! My name is Joy, and I'm the News Editor. Aside from writing articles, I enjoy playing violin for pit orchestra and making desserts for my friends and family. During the school year, I run Blair's DECA club, and I participate in many business-related activities. More »

Show comments


mogge — 1 year, 7 months ago

This is a great story of people getting it done in the community. Great people doing great work. Great article Joy.

Please ensure that all comments are mature and responsible; they will go through moderation.