Governor Susana Martinez announced today that more than 100 teachers
statewide will receive a $5,000 stipend this year for teaching at "hard-to-staff' schools across the state. The initiative, announced by Governor Martinez in January, is designed to attract and keep highly qualified math and science teachers in schools that have experienced serious challenges in hiring teachers in these fields.
Teachers in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) were identified by local school administrators to receive the incentive by either transferring to a new school or by committing to teach at a school identified as "hard-tostaff.' So far, 75 teachers have been retained at their school with 35 additional teachers moving to a new school in 14 districts across New Mexico.
"We're proud to stand with teachers who take on the challenge of teaching high-level math and science courses to students in schools that have a tough time attracting and keeping good teachers," said Governor Martinez. "Students in every part of New Mexico deserve great teachers and this incentive is a key first step."
The first round of awards go to teachers at 27 schools that are designated as "hard-tostaff" in New Mexico. These schools are defined by their location, academic achievement, or the poverty status of enrolled students. To qualify for the $5,000 incentive, teachers must commit to teaching at a school for at least two years. Not only can teachers use the funds to increase pay, but the incentive can also be added to federal programs offering student loan forgiveness for those who teach in many parts of New Mexico.
"Teachers who take on the challenge of "hard-to-staff' schools while setting high
expectations for our students deserve to be rewarded," said Public Education Department Secretary Hanna Skandera. "More teachers and more schools can still qualify because we want to make sure we reward every teacher who is willing to take on this opportunity to help our students."
The STEM teacher initiative is part of the Governor's education reform efforts, designed to identify schools and students who are struggling and target interventions to get them the help they need.
Pecos Independent Schools, north of Santa Fe, is one of the districts using the incentive to strengthen their math and science instruction. They are using the incentive at both Pecos Middle School and Pecos High School.
"Recruiting and retaining quality teachers in any area of study is difficult for rural
districts in our state," said Pecos Superintendent Fred Trujillo. "We have to compete with not only the larger districts that have more amenities to offer the teachers, but we also compete with businesses and industries that continue to lure these quality individuals away from education. The additional incentive levels the financial playing field for us. The Pecos Independent School District appreciates Governor Martinez's focus on helping the rural schools in our state to offer our students a quality education."
There are additional funds available from the $1.25 million program -- $675,000 -- which teachers and districts can continue to apply for in the coming weeks. Districts will have until Friday, September 13th to apply for funds still available from the
incentive. Teachers must hold a current New Mexico teaching license in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics for grades 7-12.
Governor Martinez made her announcement today at Albuquerque's Sandia Science & Technology Park (SS&TP). The world-class facility is home to companies, scientists, and researchers involved in advancing new technologies. Currently, 33 companies and organizations and more than 2,300 employees reside in SS&TP's 340-acre high-tech campus.
The majority of jobs at the Park are in math, science, and engineering fields, and the average yearly salary is $72,000.