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July 27, 2006 :: Math, Science Teachers Receive $10,000 for Completing Incentive Program

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They may not have won the lottery, but several Oklahoma teachers are $10,000 richer today thanks to a legislative program that rewards teachers who agree to teach math and science for at least five years in Oklahoma.

The Teacher Shortage Employment Incentive Program (TSEIP) recently announced that 35 math and science teachers in Oklahoma will each receive $10,347 for completing the five-year agreement. TSEIP is administered by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

State lawmakers created TSEIP in 2000 as part of Oklahoma’s push to attract and retain more teachers in math and science. The program reimburses student loans expenses for eligible students who sign up for the program while in college and who agree to teach in an Oklahoma secondary school for at least five years.

This year’s recipients are the program’s first, all of whom signed up for TSEIP in 2001, the first year that students were able to sign up for the program. They are currently teaching in schools representing every region of the state.

Officials said that any money left over after the teachers’ student loan expenses have been paid will be given to the individual teachers. For those teachers who do not have any loans to repay, they will instead receive the full amount of the cash award.

Eliot Smith, who teaches math and computer science at Barnsdall Junior-Senior High School, is one of 11 teachers in the group receiving the full amount. He said that he avoided taking out any loans and was able to pay for his master’s degree through various scholarships and grants.

“My wife and I are going to use some of the $10,000 to pay off our bills, and then we’ll be debt free. There aren’t a lot of people that can say that,” Smith said. “Any money that is left over, I may apply to my doctorate.”

John Massey, chairman of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, said that the program is helping the state keep its youngest and brightest teachers from leaving the state and improving math and science scores statewide.

“This is such a worthwhile program, especially when our state and nation are trying to remain competitive with other countries around the world that are producing more college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math,” Massey said. “We’re happy that these 35 teachers earned the $10,000 awards, and we would like to see a lot more students enroll in TSEIP and teach in Oklahoma for many years.”

Every Oklahoma college or university that has a teacher education program, including many independent institutions, participate in TSEIP.

Students interested in learning more about TSEIP should contact the education department at their respective college or university or visit the TSEIP Web site at They may also contact the State Regents Teacher Education Program at 225.9192 (in Oklahoma City) or toll free at 800.858.1840 or e-mail