Future teacher shares her outlook on Oklahoma education crisis, proposed walkout

TULSA -- College students are watching developments on the proposed teacher walkout closely because some of them are getting ready to graduate and leave one classroom for another. 

Gabrielle McCracken is studying this week for another certification test since she graduates from Northeastern State University in May and plans to teach special education. 

Teaching has been a lifelong dream for McCracken, but she said that goal has recently drawn some unusual reactions from people. 

"They're like, oh, are you sure you want to do that?" McCracken said. "It just kind of crushes you a little bit." 

At one time, she seriously considered leaving Oklahoma. Other districts in surrounding states even offered her jobs with much higher pay. 

"To think that I could make immediately, with zero years of experience, tens of thousands of dollars more is very tempting, and it's hard," McCracken said. 

She, however, turned down all the out-of-state offers so that she and her fiancé could stay in Oklahoma. Working in classrooms with teachers here in her home state changed her mind.  

"I don't fault anyone for leaving. That is their decision, just like it is for mine to stay," McCracken said. "But I think if you really are on the fence about it and you want to make those sacrifices but you're just not sure, just wait it out and see what happens." 

The teachers now rallying state lawmakers for higher pay give her hope for the future. The walkout, however, may cut her internship this semester short since schools might close. She worries about potentially losing valuable hands-on experience before getting a classroom of her very own. 

"To think that I won't have that is really discouraging for my future students," she said, "because I'm not going to be able to be the best that I can be for them." 

Whatever happens, she knows that she will be in a classroom somewhere in Oklahoma teaching in just a few short months. 

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