ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII)-- It's Teacher Appreciation Week, and one Southern Oklahoma community is saying thank you, during a time where the state faces a host of education problems.
"I think any educator that tells you they get into it for the money is mistaken," Lone Grove High School Principal Chris Sudderth said. "They get into it because they have a passion for kids, its in their heart, and its what they want to do, what they feel called to do."
Last year, a state proposal to give Oklahoma teachers a $5,000 raise failed. And recent state budget cuts have eliminated over 1,500 teaching positions. The Oklahoma State Department of Education says that, combined with teachers opting for better pay in other states or other careers altogether, has created a teacher shortage in Oklahoma.
But the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce, with support from the community, is saying thanks, with their annual Teacher Appreciation Reception.
"This year especially, to me, its important because our teachers are operating in very difficult circumstances." Ardmore Chamber of Commerce President Mita Bates said.
Over 500 educators from the five area school districts gathered at the Ardmore Convention Center Tuesday for the dinner.
"To me, this is just one little way that we as the business community, and the greater community as the whole, can just reach out in a small way and say we really appreciate you, and we appreciate the job you do every day." Bates said.
But Sudderth says the act is huge.
"Just to have that show of support, that hey, we appreciate everything you do and the importance you place on our child's education, I think that's very reassuring for teachers to hear." Sudderth said.