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2016 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year leaving the state for better pay

NORMAN, Okla. - Oklahoma's 2016 Teacher of the Year, Shawn Sheehan, taught six happy years at Norman High School. But his math class will now be history as Sheehan says goodbye.

“We waited as long as we could, we really did. I posted a blog over Spring break asking the question should I stay or should I go,” Sheehan said.

Six years now stuffed into boxes as Sheehan packs away memories from his classroom.

He fought for teacher pay, retention and resources. Even throwing his hat in the ring for state senate.

Only to lose the election and his chance to enact change at the capitol.

“And the fact is, I can stand in front of students and do the same job that I love, that I`m highly awarded for south of border here and I`ll be paid $20,000 more,” he said.

But to this math teacher, lawmakers' decisions just didn't add up.

“If I start tomorrow, if I leave tomorrow, I will start at a number that’s higher than I can ever reach teaching in the state of Oklahoma, anywhere in the state of Oklahoma,” Sheehan said.

It’s an issue the state is trying to tackle.

“We have a teacher shortage as many states do. I think it`s kind of a multilayer issue,” said Robin Miller with the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

Miller says money isn't the sole reason many teachers, like Sheehan are leaving the teaching profession.

“Data tells us that many teachers nationwide are not supported, it might be professional development or resources that they need, it might be leadership,” said Miller.

Sheehan says this move doesn't mean defeat but actually the opposite.

“By leaving, by voting with my feet, I`m taking my family south, I hope that statement creates some kind of positive change,” Sheehan said.

State superintendent Joy Hofmeister says, “Shawn was an excellent ambassador for the state as teacher of the year, and his leaving Oklahoma is a sad loss for his students.”