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Why a small school district is a leader in teacher retention

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Posted at 11:14 AM, Sep 15, 2022

Sheree Baker and Heather Miller have been teaching together for more than two decades. Miller says she became a teacher after being inspired by Baker.

“She wrote in my yearbook, the year she graduated, ‘You’re the reason I want to become an English teacher,’" Baker said.

 The teachers are proud of their district in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.

It has long been a leader in teacher retention.

“I wouldn’t be here if, you know, some of the situations that are happening in other districts were happening here,” Baker said.

 A national survey from Education Next found most people, regardless of their political party, support increasing funding for education and salaries for teachers. The divide comes on topics of face mask requirements, curriculum and whether public college should be free.

“I think there’s a lot of rhetoric about the job public schools are doing. And it seems to me that people will report that’s happening elsewhere, but not in my hometown,” said superintendent Sherry Durkee.

Oklahoma has issued restrictions on teaching about race and gender, but the teachers in San Springs say they still feel empowered and protected.

"We have an element of freedom here to be ourselves," said Baker.