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The Morning Bell: Teacher Spanish lessons, pay raises and student-led court

Good Monday morning. 

The state Department of Education is releasing results from a survey of certified teachers who have left the profession, which they hope will provide insight into why teachers are leaving and what it would take to get them back. I'll have coverage this afternoon. 

OKCPS offers Spanish lessons to staff

Last Thursday marked the first day of class for 35 Oklahoma City Public School employees — 12 of them teachers — who signed up for free Spanish lessons. Another 130 people who expressed an interest in learning Spanish were put on a waiting list.

"You never know what you're going to get with a new program like this," said Mary Melon, president and chief executive officer of The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools. "We knew there was interest. We didn't know there was this level of interest. "It's a great problem to have."

Edmond school board challenger withdraws

A challenger has decided to withdraw his candidacy to unseat longtime Edmond School Board incumbent Jamie Underwood.

Dave Evans, a father of two children in the district, said he recently added clients as a business consultant and his work demanded more of his time

National Board Certification stipend remains funded

Oklahoma's $5,000 stipends for National Board Certified teachers has been untouched by state education funding cuts. The same can’t be said for similar $5,000 bonuses for audiologists and speech pathologists, roles that public schools in Oklahoma, and nationwide, struggle to fill, reports Samuel Hardiman of the Tulsa World

The absence of the bonus is in effect a $5,000 pay cut to speech pathologists who can fetch $30,000 more a year outside the public school system. The Oklahoma State Board of Education didn’t fund the bonuses for fiscal years 2017 and 2018 due to lack of funds.

Teacher pay efforts ramp up again

In a story about the continued effort to get a teacher pay raise in Oklahoma, Cache Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Corey Holland told me his biggest worry is not losing current teachers to higher-paying jobs in another state. Instead, he's more concerned with the idea of potential teachers rejecting the career before they ever get started.

“My oldest son loved being around students, went on church mission trips, was a summer sponsor for church camp and volunteer coach; he is the kind of person we need around kids. He was working part time for Chicken Express and he asked me what the starting pay for a teacher was. When I told him, he realized he was not too far behind, and he was still in college. At 20 years old, teaching became a non-option for him. How many times does that happen?”

Student facing drug charges

An Edmond North High School student is facing adult drug trafficking charges after more than 100 hits of LSD were found during his arrest last week, reports KFOR

Teacher accused of hitting student

Nick Johnson, a 13-year-old Ninnekah student, says he accidentally threw a ball that hit his P.E. teacher in the groin. Johnson and his mother Laura say that teacher chased Nick down then whipped Nick repeatedly with his belt, reports News9.

PCS museum awards tonight

The Putnam City Schools Museum will present Lifetime Service Award honors to five individuals associated with Putnam City during ceremonies on Monday at the school administration building.

The 2018 honorees are Marcia Moon Feisal,Jim Shields,Beverley Stinchcomb,David Apgar and Etta Green Schneider, one of three members of the original Putnam City graduating class of 1919, who was active in alumni affairs throughout her life and who both donated and collected memorabilia that formed the museum's original collection.

Fast fact: The Putnam City Schools Museum is the largest districtwide school museum in Oklahoma, with a collection of items dating to Putnam City's founding in 1914. 

A court of their peers

Established in Comanche County in 1991, Teen Court is a nonprofit organization that offers juveniles between age 10 and 18 the chance for their cases to be heard by a jury composed of their peers, who administer the sentence, according to Marcia Frazier, executive director of Teen Court.

"We do give the opportunity to clear that record before they have a formal charge against them because once they're in the (Oklahoma Juvenile Affairs) system, they're in the system for good," Frazier said. "It's a state statute that their arrest can be deferred down to Teen Court. ... Ultimately, the purpose of Teen Court is to give these kids a second opportunity to change their behavior and get on the right track."

The Lawton constitution recently wrote about the program, which also allows students between age 13 and 18 from area middle and high schools to volunteer to be defense and prosecuting attorneys. 

FFA program in Chisholm

A second-year program at Chisholm Elementary School involves FFA students teaching second graders about life on the farm, reports the Enid News and Eagle.

That does it for today's Morning Bell. Have a great Monday.

Ben Felder

Ben Felder is an investigative reporter for The Oklahoman. A native of Kansas City, Ben has lived in Oklahoma City since 2010 and covered politics, education and local government for the Oklahoma Gazette before joining The Oklahoman in 2016.... Read more ›