OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As students begin heading back to school, the Oklahoma State Department of Education announced a new initiative to pay Oklahoma college students who become student teachers.
Officials say it’s all part of an effort to ensure that students have access to well-prepared teachers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In order to do that, the OSDE will use $12.75 million in federal relief funding to pay eligible Oklahoma college students for their work as student teachers.
“The traditional model of student teaching can be a major barrier for students who are supporting a family and cannot go without a paid job for months. This initiative will ensure teacher candidates can instead focus on their student teaching experience,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. “We must do everything in our power to not only maintain but strengthen the pipeline of highly trained educators.”
Over the next three school years, the initiative will provide up to $3,250 payments to an estimated 1,300 qualified student teachers each year.
The students must by enrolled at Oklahoma colleges that are participating in the program.
“Members of my student teaching cohort and I had been talking about how we were going to be able to make it work financially. We were very concerned about three to four months of no income. When we learned about the paid student teaching initiative, we were shocked but so grateful,” said SaVone Blue, who will be student teaching at Southeast High School in Oklahoma City Public Schools this fall. “It alleviates a lot of pressure. Because of this funding, I can give my all to the experience, into planning lessons and making sure I can give my students what they deserve – a great education.”
The program will pay the first $1,625 by the first week of student teaching. The final $1,625 payment will be paid by the Oklahoma public school district hiring the candidate.