More federal relief money is being used to boost schools in Oklahoma.
The State Department of Education announced a nearly $13 million student-teacher incentive today.
“We need teachers in classrooms,” said Joy Hofmeister, Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Education experts hope some financial support will help students choose to teach, and then stay in Oklahoma as teachers once they’re credentialed.
“Many people have to take on part-time jobs to make ends meet,” said Shelbie Witte, OSU Head of the School of Teaching, Learning and Educational Services.
She said the months where aspiring teachers complete their internship can make or break an education student.
Students work full-time at a school -- with no pay for 15 weeks.
“It is where every strand of knowledge of the art and the craft of teaching comes together in a real-life situation in the classroom,” Witte said.
The stipend will support all teachers but is meant to remove barriers for those who would have difficulty finishing their program.
“Many of these very important people pursuing their college of education degree are unable to leave their family without working for 15 weeks,” said Hofmeister.
In total, $12.75 million in relief dollars will be broken out among students in two stipends.
Each student will receive a $1,625 stipend at the beginning of their internship.
But only teachers who get a job in Oklahoma at the end of their program will receive the second $1,625.
Over the next three school years, the program seeks to boost the careers of 1,300 teachers.
Witte said this is all in an effort to strengthen the pipeline toward jobs in education and promote better retention among teachers-- two key issues contributing to a lack of teachers in Oklahoma.
“Ultimately, it comes down to respect and compensation for teachers, and the more that we can provide them as far as support and compensation, that problem I think will solve itself,” Witte said.
This teacher support is part of the state Department of Education’s COVID recovery plan that was implemented in May.