Bethel Teacher By Day, Pizza Delivery Driver By Night

Wednesday, August 10th 2011, 10:04 pm
By: News 9

Havonnah Johnson, News 9

SHAWNEE, Oklahoma -- One Oklahoma teacher said getting his master's degree was his biggest financial mistake to date because the state pulled the funding for the national board certified teacher program.

Christian Herring thought picking up his master's would make him a more valuable educator at Bethel High School.  Instead, the 32-year-old 11th-grade teacher said the extra education has left him both tired and broke.

Herring received a letter last month notifying him of the decision to cut the stipend. Now the Shawnee teacher delivers pizza to make his monthly student loan payments.

"We have 12 teachers at my school that went through the national board process. The certification process is very rigorous.  It takes hours to do it and not I'm going to say that stipend is a big motivator for teachers to do that," Herring said.

Three thousand Oklahoma teachers were motivated enough to earn the certificate, with the expectations they'd get a stipend of up to $50,000.

"And now the state of Oklahoma has broken a promise to 3,000 of us," Herring said.

The grad program cost him $17,000.  He got a raise, but not enough to cover school loans, so now he delivers dough to get the dough to pay his debt.

"I was going have just the right amount to make my student loan with maybe a little to spare. This year the program is dead--I've got eight more years on my student loans so I am working delivering pizza," he said.

"Herring and a dozen of his colleagues are petitioning the state in hopes lawmakers will reconsider funding the stipend for national board teachers.