Triad teachers given hope after Gov. Cooper addresses teacher pay in State of the State address

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Local teachers were given hope after Gov. Roy Cooper’s State of the State mentioned the need for pay increases for teachers.

That hope is followed by the desire for real change.

Concerning numbers from the National Educators Association show just how far behind the state is in comparison to what other states are paying teachers, ranking North Carolina 33rd.

“Because of our budget dispute last time, our educators did not get a raise in the last budget cycle. We need to make up for that in this year’s budget,” Cooper said Monday.

For Guilford County Schools teacher Ashley Geise Cooper acknowledging the shortfall is a step in the right direction.

“I feel like we’re on his radar and we kind of have been and we haven’t fallen off his radar. So, it does gives me hope,” Geise said. “There have been times where I felt very defeated.”

Teaching is the job Geise has loved for 12 years. But a lagging salary had her leave the profession briefly.

“I had nine years of teaching in and got out of education because of the pay and I was very burned out,” Geise said.

But since it’s her passion, she found herself back in classroom about a year later.

While there are average supplemental pay raises like the nearly $4,927 one proposed in Guilford County Schools’ 2021 budget, she says it’s really not enough.

“It doesn’t make that much of a difference when you put it over 10 months,” she said.

Over at Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, last year’s average supplemental pay was roughly $5,614.

Geise agrees with Cooper that North Carolina being ranked 33rd in the country for teacher pay raises makes it harder to retain the best teachers.

“If we can put that time and energy into doing our jobs as best as we can and maybe take some time to do professional development and take some of that extra time to put back into ourselves,” she said.

Geise said she is hopeful the legislators will increase their budget for pay raises.

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