Oklahoma City nonprofit offers bonuses and competitive pay for beginning teachers

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — Oklahoma is currently focused on improving the financial side of the teaching profession as well as childcare.

A local nonprofit hopes to tackle both with a new service and an attractive signing bonus.

“If we don’t have high-quality child care centers open and functioning with great teachers, who can connect with children and families, then the whole economy will shut down,” said Paula Gates, director of Sunbeam programs. “It’s really the foundation of our workforce, for all areas of Oklahoma.”

This base is currently the focus of Sunbeam Family Services in Oklahoma City.

Sunbeam has partnered with Oklahoma City Public Schools since 2004 – offering a kind of free pre-primary for infants up to age 3 in its Early Head Start program for eligible families.

“We don’t use the word ‘daycare’ anymore,” Gates said. “We have lesson plans for infants. We hold parent-teacher meetings twice a year.

Sunbeam is expanding this program from its three current OKC public schools to Millwood Public Schools — a district that Sunbeam says is in a metro risk zone.

“It will give us a real boost in life,” said Chris Harrison, a Millwood graduate and Sunbeam’s new chairman of the board. “We’ve always said that once you’ve been part of Millwood, you can never leave.”

He and those at Sunbeam hope a competitive salary will help attract new members to what they call a family environment.

Teachers can earn up to $21 per hour, depending on their experience.

Sunbeam is also offering a $2,000 signing bonus – to get more teachers into classrooms and parents back into the workforce.

“I just think this is really an opportunity to step into an area that’s fundamental to our state, to our economy, to being able to come in and make a difference for kids,” Gates said.

Sunbeam’s funding comes from an early start grant for Oklahoma County.

They also offer a paid apprenticeship program for those wishing to enter the field of early childhood education.

If you want to apply, go to Sunbeam Family Services website.

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