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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — Jayne Townsend is a teacher with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. She has been teaching at Sedge Garden Elementary School for the last five years.

“I definitely believe it’s my passion. I’m thankful for the job I have,” Townsend said.

She was one of the more than 4,000 teachers in the district who will receive a $1,000 teaching bonus.

“The income definitely helps, especially if you have children. As the world has evolved, prices are going up, and you have to be able to afford things. There has to be two incomes in a family if you’re a teacher. That’s just the way it is,” she said.

Now she will be getting another boost.

“We started to look ahead to see what else we can do for our staff during this really challenging time to show how much we appreciate them,” WSFCS Chief Human Resource Officer Jevelyn Bonner-Reed said.

That appreciation comes in the form of two payments of $700 for staff at WSFCS. The first payment will be for teachers and certified staff employed within the district by Dec. 1 and will be paid out on Dec. 16.

The next $700 bonus will be given out next year for teachers employed with the district by May 1, 2021, and will be paid out on May 31, 2022.

“I think it’s only a part of what they are looking for. They are looking for more relief, because a lot of these teachers are parents, and they have to juggle a lot. Really, they appreciate it, but I’m fully aware they want more, and we are working hard to address that,” Bonner-Reed said.

School leaders say finding and retaining teachers in the Piedmont Triad has not been the easiest task

“The biggest difference is people are looking at teachers to do other things. We used to feel our competition was other districts. People can do what they want right now because the labor shortage is real. I have people leave the district to do something completely different. Teachers can do a lot which is attractive to other employers,” Bonner-Reed said.

She believes bonuses like these will help retain teachers in the district like Townsend.

“It’s a nice surprise I have to say. I didn’t expect it. I think it’s a great gesture on our school board’s part,” Townsend said.

School leaders also approved $500 payments for all staff.