Oklahoma Teachers Demanding Change
OKLAHOMA CITY - The time has come for change and that is the message thousands of teachers across the state are sending to lawmakers. News 9 followed two teachers to show the impact they're making in the classroom and why they demand change.
"We're not walking out on them, we're walking out for them," said Sheila Thompson, a second grade teacher at Lee Elementary School in Oklahoma City. "None of us want to be away from our kids for one day."
Thompson tries to make a difference with her students each day she steps into the classroom.
"My favorite is the relationship with the kids," she said. "When you have a relationship with them, they want to try to do their best for you because they know that you care about them."
It's this relationship that's motivating the 14-year teaching veteran to advocate for change.
"I don't think I could ever be as fulfilled in another profession as I am with teaching," Thompson confirmed.
So, she is leading the charge for change.
"I don't feel like legislators really understand how serious we are," she said.
Thompson and her fellow teachers have taken an active role outside the classroom to get that message to lawmakers. They rallied over spring break for a pay raise, more funding for students and a cap on class sizes.
"I had 28 last year," said Jessica Tilley, a fifth grade teacher at Lee Elementary School. "I'm at 33 this year, what's the number going to be next year?"
Tilley teaches 5th grade and after only three years into her career, is already disillusioned.
"It's difficult to know that you're undervalued," she said. "It's hard to come to work every day when people think you're a babysitter."
However, like other teachers, her passion for her kids keeps her focused on what's best for them.
"We need more technology in our schools which cost more money which we don't have so we're losing that side of it so we're not developing our kids for career readiness," Tilley said.
And with their demands falling on deaf ears for so long, educators are hopeful for the future.
"I think if we're not in the classrooms they're going to have to take us seriously," Tilley said.