Oklahoma breaks record for number of emergency certified teachers in one year, about 1900 more 2017

TULSA, Okla. -- It's an environment still new to David Owen. After leaving the army and a job as a security guard, he went through the Tulsa Teachers Corps for an emergency certification this summer.

"When I got out of the service I haven't had anything where I felt like I was doing something positive for my community. There was always a hole," Owen said.

Owen thought he was ready after this summer's training. But after entering the classroom at Unity Learning Academy, the educator found out just how much was left to learn.

"Just the responsibility and the work load. I'm coming to work at six in the morning and I don't leave until about 5:30 in the evening," Owen said.

At Tulsa Public Schools alone they've emergency certified more than 300 teachers since June, and are still looking to find 20 more.

"Education has fallen by the wayside in Oklahoma. Not just teacher pay but what we spend per student. It's just dropped tremendously in the past years," 5th grade teacher Ann Saunkeah said.

The teacher corps is a month-long program that kicked off this summer, but Owen said most of his education started in the classroom. Now he's relying on veteran teachers to learn the ropes.

"We'd be up a river without a paddle. She's a life saver and she's teaching us step by step, taking time out of her day and the workload she already has, and showing us the ropes," Owen said.

The 2500 new teachers compares to less than 600 at this time last year.

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