A 29-year-old woman who adopted a former student and his brother is now celebrating being completely debt-free.
As one of the most rewarding jobs of all time, teaching is also one of the most exasperating. You see your children for at least 6 hours every day; you get to know them… and you know instantly when something is wrong. But seeking help for a child who is so obviously in need isn’t easy.
You often feel ignored by the authorities and frustrated that there isn’t something you could personally do to help a vulnerable member of your class.
That’s exactly how Chelsea Haley felt in 2015 when she met fourth-grade student Jerome Robinson while working for Teach for America in Louisiana.
When Haley saw Jerome getting suspended from school and failing to progress academically, she started spending time with him — going to his football games, buying him school supplies and more, she told “GMA” in 2018.
Soon, Jerome asked Haley if he could live with her and in 2016, Haley gained full custody of the teen.
Chelsea now has full custody of Jerome’s little brother, Jace, as well.
Adopting a child doesn’t come cheap, and Chelsea spent all the money in her bank to see the process through.
In her first few years of raising the boys, she lived off credit cards and deferred her student loan.
But speaking to Good Morning America, Chelsea said it was all worth it, adding:
“Being their mom is the greatest blessing of my life,” Haley said. “I get to wake up in the morning and love two little guys.”
Haley said she wiped out her savings for attorney fees when seeking custody of the two boys. She also accumulated debt to afford taking care of them, which was piled onto deferred student loans.
Determine to rid herself of debt, Haley took on side jobs.
“On top of being a teacher, I was tutoring a couple of days a week,” she said, adding that on Fridays, she was paid extra to stay late at the school and work as the building manager.
Haley also delivered groceries, sold her home and moved back in with her parents on Nov. 6.
And now, just five years later, Chelsea can proudly say that she has paid off nearly $50,000 of debt.She shared a picture on her Facebook account that shows her posing with her family. On the left, Jerome holds a sign that reads: “At 24-years-old, she wiped out her savings to adopt us as a single mom”.
Little Jace stands between them, and on the right, Chelsea holds up a sign that reads: “Today, at 29 years old, she has officially paid off $48,683.41 and is DEBT FREE!”
Now she’s finally out of debt, Chelsea has plans to buy a house and save up for the boys’ college education.
“It allows me to focus on the boys’ future,” she said. “Saving money for them, and not spending it on my past.”
She offered a word of advice to anyone else who was dealing with debt, suggesting that they focused on the expenses that had the highest amount of interest first.
She added that what made the effort worth it was “knowing you’ll have a lot more freedom once it’s paid off”.