With the teacher shortage now at crisis levels, one metro school district is getting creative.
Mid-Del Schools have turned to the private sector for help. Not in the form of big cash donations, but small tokens of appreciation.
The program is called Rewards of Honor and started when Midwest City AutoSpa offered to give all the teachers free oil changes. The program has since grown to 18 businesses, and now, the program's creators want to take the program statewide.
Tara Bryant has been a teacher for 19 years. For the past 11 months, she's been taking advantage of lot of free stuff.
“Oil change … I’ve gone and gotten pizza and I’ve gotten snow cones several times and I went to TG Farms and got the fruit and vegetable basket,” she said.
As a thank you, Bryant and her fellow teachers usually give those businesses a shout out on social media providing instant advertising to all their friends and followers.
Mid-West Auto's owner Andrew Giorgi said his business has grown because of it.
“That’s not the reason why I did it, but if I was going to pay it forward I certainly had that hope,” Giorgi said.
Girogi, whose mother is a longtime teacher, created the program with Steven Faulker, a marketing executive.
“If it’s the smart business decision and it’s a great decision from the heart and it’s improving our children’s education and it’s improving our teacher pay and moral how cool is that?” Faulker asked.
Faulker said if teachers took full advantage of all the freebies, it would amount to $30,000 a year, and at Mid-Del Schools, that has already helped with teacher recruitment.
“Hopefully it does help us steal a teacher or two from my friends in other districts,” Mid-Del Schools superintendent Rick Cobb said.
Still, Bryant said the real lesson here isn't in the money she saves.
“Honestly just to have the community supporting and backing us, that in itself is an incentive,” she said.
The program's creators are now working on expanding the program in the metro.