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Gwinnett educator shares bonus with colleagues because ‘Teaching should not be a competition’

A Gwinnet teacher awarded a $3,725  performance bonus this week from the school district turned around and shared the money with colleagues.
A Gwinnet teacher awarded a $3,725  performance bonus this week from the school district turned around and shared the money with colleagues.

Each teacher at Collins Hill High School received $20 and powerful note from anonymous co-worker

A Gwinnett teacher given a $3,725 performance bonus by the school district divided the award among 160 colleagues, leaving each of them a note in their mailboxes and $20 cash.

The teacher performed this act of generosity and solidarity anonymouslyand it brightened the mood today at Collins Hill High School in Suwanee.

Teachers at the high school sent emails throughout the school thanking the anonymous giver for the gift.

“In the light of all the tension revolving around bonus pay, I thought it was pretty amazing that an employee wanted to pay it back,’’ said a staff member.

On Wednesday, Gwinnett County Public Schools distributed bonuses to 3,144 teachers chosen for outstanding performance based on a formula the superintendent called "revolutionary."

Among the factors in deciding who earned a bonus were a teacher’s annual performance evaluation and student growth as measured by comparing baseline-setting tests at the beginning of the year to end-of-course tests.

Recipients from 138 county schools received a a total of $12,377,863.68. There were three levels of awards: $6,208.80, which is 10% of the average annual teacher salary; $3,725.28 (6% of the average teacher salary) and $1,862.64 (3% of the average teacher salary).

The generous bonuses have spurred hurt feelings and criticisms, especially after teachers saw that fewer awards went to educators in Gwinnett's high-poverty schools. Some teachers felt the bonuses undermined the collaborative nature of teaching.

Along with the $20, Collins Hill teachers received this note from their co-worker:

I was given a performance-based cash award by the school district. Despite the staggering lengths the district went to try and make it fair, I don't believe it is or ever could be.

We aren't selling used cars here. We are teaching unique individual students and their performance is not solely based on a teacher's effort. With vastly different classroom content, different levels of student abilities and different student home lives, each teacher faces very different challenges. Trying to boil it down to a number to pit teachers against one another is like comparing apples to battleships.

Just 30% of the teachers at this school got any kind on monetary recognition for their efforts but I know how hard all the teachers in this school work to inspire and help our students grow and I believe the 70% who got nothing deserve more than that.

Well, here it is. I'm sharing what I got with you. $3,172.15 after taxes/160 teachers=$20. (I rounded up.)

Teaching should not be a competition. Merry Christmas.

P.S. If all the recipients of this award did this, we'd all get about a $1,300 raise.

Collins Hill High principal Kerensa Wing does not know which of her school’s bonus recipients chose to share their bonus, but said, "One of our school's practices throughout the year is to carry out intentional acts of kindness and give thank you’s to one another. This is evident in notecards that are exchanged between teachers and students and in many other ways. This gesture by one of our teachers is just another example of that practice.”

Wing, who is the 2020 National Principal of the Year, also said, “We have a very collaborative culture and I think that was the spirit and intent of the teacher who did this... it was a way for this teacher to express thanks and appreciation for those with whom he or she works. And this act of kindness was actually paid forward as a number of teachers who received the 'gift' took it directly to our counselors' office and donated it to support our care team's efforts to support students and families in need."

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