Fulton offers $20,000 stipends for teachers to serve needy schools

Allison Bridges raps about polygons and other shapes to a classroom of third-graders, her long, blond braid swinging in time to the beat. The children hang on every word and movement, mimicking her “math rap.”

Inspired by Drake and other popular musicians her students like, Bridges creates her own raps connected to classroom curriculum – an innovative teaching technique meant to engage children’s senses and immerse them in learning.

“I’m trying to meet them at their level,” says Bridges, who teaches at Feldwood Elementary in South Fulton County.

Considered one of the best teachers in the county’s school system, Bridges is part of a first-of-its kind program rolled out this fall that significantly changes how educators are paid in Georgia’s fourth-largest school system.

Under the new pilot program, Fulton’s top teachers can earn $20,000 stipends for working in its lowest-performing schools. No other system in Georgia offers such pay bumps tied to merit to induce the best teachers to work in the neediest schools.

The stipends award more money to teachers who elicit high test scores and other measurable achievement by their students. School systems across Georgia are closely watching to see if Fulton’s model is successful, amid talks at the state level about changing teachers’ compensation.

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