LARWILL, Ind. (WFFT) — Whitko Community Schools is celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week with more than a 'Thank You.'
They’re putting their money where their mouth is ... to the tune of $1,000 per staff and faculty member.
"This is unheard of," said teacher Jay Ocken. "This is the first time in my 27 years that a stipend like this has been given."
Ocken is an Engineering and Welding Technology teacher at the Whitko Career Academy.
He says teaching this past year both in-person and over Zoom has been difficult for everyone involved.
"Teachers that I know of have all worked a little harder this year trying to do both at the same time," Ocken said. "It creates a lot more work than a normal year."
Administrators at Whitko donated their $1,000 back to the teachers, who are now able to spend an extra $500 on classroom supplies.
"I see other colleagues over the years that have taken their own personal money," Ocken said.
"You already hear some of them talk about things that they always wanted to do, but now are going to be able to do it," said College and Careers teacher Phil Jensen.
Jensen says regardless of how teachers spend the classroom stipend, he thinks this past year has made students appreciate teachers now more than ever.
"I think they realize and their parents realize that you can’t replace being in a classroom with a teacher on a daily basis," Jensen said.
And Ocken agrees that even with the bonus, having a normal school year in the fall would be the best gift of all.
"Most teachers get into teaching not for the money, but honestly, to change the world one kid at a time," Ocken said.
The bonus money is coming from Whitko’s ESSER COVID-relief fund.
The school board says it plans to officially pass the resolution at the end of the month.