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Zero Emerson Elementary teachers returning in 2018

Posted at 5:56 PM, Nov 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-10 11:01:02-05

TULSA -- None of the existing teachers at Emerson Elementary will be returning in 2018 because of a new contract.

Emerson Elementary is undergoing renovations. The new facilities will re-open next year as a Montessori school.

Tulsa Public Schools gave current teachers the chance to sign a three-year contract with the school. If they chose not to sign the contract, they were told they would be moved to another school in the district. 

None of the existing teachers signed the contract. 

Eight teachers from other schools and from outside of the district have signed it

Those teachers are undergoing specialized training to prepare them for the new teaching style and the district wants a return on their investment.

"Which is really not any different from not just in education but in other areas," Patti Ferguson-Palmer, President of th Tulsa Classroom Teacher's Association, said. "If we train you for this, we want you to stay with us." 

Palmer said some of the teachers feel pushed out of the job they've known for years.

"They feel displaced," Palmer said. "Teachers come to feel like their school is their home and that is a school building where you don't have a lot of turnover so now that is going to be changed."

Stephanie Jones, a current first grade teacher at Skelly Primary School, said working at a Montessori-style school is a dream come true. 

"Wow, I am so excited about the Montessori program," Jones said. "It's something that really embraces hands on learning. It's a holistic approach to education." 

Jones said she did take a while to think about the commitment before agreeing to three years, but realizes it will benefit the students in the long run.

"We know that classrooms that have high turnovers of teachers don't have the very best outcomes for their kids because that relationship is so important," Jones said. "In my classroom, I will be with the same kids for three years of their life." 

Teachers who did sign the contract but do not complete it will face a financial penalty to repay the district for the training. 

Emerson's new facilities will open for the 2018-19 school year. 

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