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From the ballpark to the open road, summer gigs keep this English teacher busy

Lowell High School English teacher Jamie Christians has a couple summer gigs, and they couldn’t be more different. They’re also not your typical customer service jobs, but you could say they are all about delivering satisfaction.

A few years ago, Christians went along with son Max to a Whitecaps baseball job fair.

“The Staffing Inc. folks inquired about my plans, and I thought I’d just be pouring beer,” Christians recalled, “but they were interested in using me as an usher. My experience as an educator made me a perfect fit with kids and families.”

Summertime Journal is a School News Network series highlighting the summer jobs, volunteer work and adventures of area teachers and students.  

He usually can be found at Fifth Third Ballpark keeping relief pitchers safe from enthusiastic autograph seekers in the right-field bullpen, monitoring the tickets of those who invest in the high-rent box seats, or working with private parties who’ve reserved one of the decks.

He’s also helped out at non-baseball events such as corporate parties, Nitro Circus and the B-93 Birthday Bash.

Christians said it’s nice to earn some extra money, and to get to work at such a community staple. Plus, he said, “the schedule is flexible, and I can’t imagine walking into work being confronted by better-smelling air. The grilled burgers and onions are incredible.”

The Whitecaps gig started in spring 2015. He still crosses paths with Max, who while on break from his studies at Michigan State University can be spotted this season serving up the famous Fifth Third Burger out of the Sweet Meats Smokehouse on the third-base concourse.

(By the way, Christians is not the only teacher to be found working at Fifth Third Ballpark; Rockford High School math teacher Bob Wells is the well-loved on-field host of the Whitecaps.)


Jamie Christians in a one-time stint as an elevator operator at Fifth Third Ballpark

Third Job

Fifth Third Ballpark was where Christians met a retired teacher in 2016 who owns a vehicle transport service; and that led his other summer job: driving privately owned vehicles to and from the Great Lakes state and beyond.

“I love driving and taking road trips, so … I figured I’d give it a shot,” Christians said. “I’m not getting super-rich driving, but the schedule is flexible, every day is different, and I get to experience a side of life I probably wouldn’t under different circumstances.”

And let’s face it, he said the money comes in handy. The married father of two is still paying off a pair of graduate degrees, and teacher pay has remained largely stagnant for a decade.

“For various reasons, I brought home more in 2009 than I do now,” he said. “Rather than sulk about it, I decided to take advantage of the one asset others perceive we have in abundance: time. The reality is, working two extra jobs affords my family a little bit extra every month to help pay for family cars, college and vacations.”

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills and Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.


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