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Teachers to be paid for their extra efforts

Jul 20, 2018 01:48PM ● Published by Jet Burnham

Summer of Support activities for local teens included free counseling and yoga classes. (Jordan School District)

Norlene Hamann spends most of her daylight hours at Mountain Shadows Elementary teaching fifth grade. Once class is over, she heads to the school gym where she is the choir director and director of the school play on alternating afternoons.

Hamann and her co-director, Carollee Tautkus, volunteer their time to run these programs. 

“We haven’t been compensated for the last 12 years,” said Hamann. “It’s just something that we do; we do it for the kids.” 

But this year, as part of Jordan School District’s compensation package, teachers such as Hamann can receive payment for their extra efforts through funding from a $3 million grant. 

“It is one of our goals to help teachers know we recognize they are doing outstanding work, and we appreciate it,” said District Board of Education President Janice Voorhies. “We are going to say thank you in dollars.” 

The Jordan Teacher Grant is available for any extra work a teacher does that improves student achievement, school culture or emotional and behavioral health. This includes a teacher who holds an extra study session for her AP students, a teacher’s hours spent planning curriculum that results in outstanding student improvement on a state test, an educator who attends an out-of-state professional development conference or one who holds an afternoon yoga class for students. Teachers advising clubs related to academics or emotional health are also eligible.

This is good news to the faculty members at West Jordan Middle School, who teach Latin dance, hip hop, chess, robotics classes and even coach soccer teams after school every day. They’ve even taken time out of their summer break to host classes, activities and counseling for neighborhood kids with a program they call Summer of Support. 

These educators, through a simple grant application process, will be able to receive compensation for doing what they are already doing. 

“We wanted teachers to be able to choose what work they wanted to do in their classrooms,” said Voorhies. “We wanted to provide money for that extra work that’s outside their normal school employment.” 

While there are many opportunities for teachers to apply for grants that pay for equipment or supplies for the classroom, this grant goes directly into teachers’ pockets. 

 “This is actual payment for teachers who’ve done exceptional work outside their normal employment description,” said Voorhies. 

Voorhies said the Jordan Teacher Grant is unique. She’s not aware of any other district with this type of benefit.

 “The goal was to incentivize good teachers to stay with us and be able to earn more money,” she said. 

Teachers determine what they think the value of their work is and apply for up to $3,000 individually or $12,000 for a group application. 

Once they have completed their play, or training, or study group, they report back to the grant committee. 

“Even if it didn’t go well, if they did the work, we’ll pay for it,” said Voorhies. “Our goal is to be generous. We want to incentivize teachers to do the right work to help students be successful.” 

The grant program’s benefits extend to teachers who don’t receive a grant directly. Grant winners will be required to share their experience with the district through a video, written report or presentation. 

Applications for the new Jordan Teacher Grant will be available this fall. Board of Education Secretary Jen Atwood said if there are any funds left after the initial application process, there will be a second round of grant allocations later in the year.

For many teachers, such as Hamann, they love what they do and have done it without worrying about being paid. 

“Whether I get the grant or not, it doesn’t matter,” said Hamann. “I do it because I love it.”

Hamann is currently looking for a new co-director. If she is awarded the grant, she admits it will be easier to find someone willing to put in the required hours when they know they will receive payment for their time.

Education

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