She was as of June 2021.
In 2020, Michelle joined an elementary school as a 5th-grade teacher. This is where she was teaching on Matt’s season and leading up to her season. (Normally we hide the name of employers, but the name of her school has already been published in multiple major publications.)
Oddly, her official bio on the ABC website says she’s a kindergarten teacher.
She may have taught kindergarten in her past but we couldn’t confirm this. (We could all learn a thing from teachers about locking down our social media.)
One thing we know for certain is that Michelle is committed to her students. The Bachelorette delayed filming to let Michelle finish out the school year (leading to Katie’s awkwardly low-budget season). However, last we heard, Michelle was on a leave of absence.
We tried to reconcile this with the recent Instagram story of her decorating a classroom and interview where it was implied that she was still teaching when this quote caught our attention:
“I’ll definitely be in a classroom the rest of the school year. I’m working towards getting my masters in administration.”
We suspect that Michelle may not currently be in a traditional full-time teaching role, but is perhaps volunteering or gaining credit for her degree. Being The Bachelorette comes with significant press commitments, so this makes the most sense to us. Regardless, we love that she’s still finding time to be in the classroom.
It’s pretty uncommon for a Bachelorette lead to return to her former profession. Even Rachel Lindsay and Andi Dorfman didn’t go back to being lawyers, so if Michelle does go back to teaching—that’s pretty impressive!
Don’t get us wrong, we’re sure Michelle loves those kids, but teacher salaries at her school district start at $44,064.
This is slightly higher than the national average, but still low considering the education, emotional energy, and unpaid time required of teachers. Forty-four percent of new teachers leave teaching within five years. Teachers leave the profession at a higher rate than many other professionals, including police officers.
Michelle’s already past the five-year mark, probably aided by the grit and determination she picked up from her time playing basketball.
Was Michelle a Professional Athlete?
The Bachelor franchise has a long history of recruiting professional athletes to fulfill the role of Bachelors (and now hosts). However, we can’t think of a single female pro-athlete who has been on the show—including Michelle.
Michelle was named MVP of the Minnesota Girls Basketball All-Star Tournament in high school and attended a Division 1 school, Bradley University, on basketball scholarship, but she never played professionally.
Only 36 new recruits are drafted to the WNBA each year, which amounts to 2-3 standout players from the very top college teams. Bradley’s women’s basketball team rarely makes the playoffs, which means that even if she were an exceptional player, it’s unlikely that Michelle would have been recruited.
For you non-sports fans, it’s like how contestants almost never get picked to be the next Bachelor unless they make the top 4 because the fans just don’t see enough of them.
(Fun fact: Each year, more women are “recruited” to national-level beauty pageants than pro-sports, which helps explain the pageant queen to Bachelor contestant pipeline – -those Miss USA girls are surprisingly thick on the ground!)
How much will Michelle make as The Bachelorette?
The standard rate for current Bachelor and Bachelorette leads is $100,000 according to Reality Steve. The money that Michelle was paid for two months of filming is twice as much as she made in a year as a teacher.
(It’s also almost twice the starting yearly salary for the WNBA.)
According to Amy Kaufman’s Bachelor Nation, leads also get other perks like a personal trainer to get them camera-ready. Plus, they get to keep the clothes they wear on the show—which were tailored to them when they were maximally toned and thus only fit for a few months after they no longer have the trainer.
(We love Amy’s book and highly recommend it.)
We’re really glad that after a lifetime of being exceptional at things, Michelle is finally getting paid for it. We love reality TV and think it’s only fair that the lead gets a decent cut of the millions being made off the show.
But we’re also pretty bummed about what this says about how we as a society value work, especially women’s work.
The minimum starting salary for the WNBA is a tenth of the NBA. We praise teachers as saints instead of compensating them like professionals.
But at least now when Michelle has to go out of pocket to buy classroom supplies, she can make the money back with an Instagram ad.
xo Your Nosy Friends, MVP mathletes
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