Christmas came early for several Port Allen teachers this year.
On December 17 and 18, Port Allen Middle and Elementary schools’ teachers and staff received their TAP pay-out, some earning bonuses of up to $2,600 as a result of students’ performances.
TAP, the Teacher Advancement Program, is a program implemented last year by the two schools, that awards teachers based on school and student performances on state tests.
Corona said that both PAMS and PAES earned grades of five, the highest grade possible, in their first year in the TAP program.
“Because of that their teachers earned additional compensation based upon how they did individually with the program,” Corona said.
Michelle Kauffman, principal at Port Allen Elementary School, said that because her school had a grade of five, each person involved in the TAP program automatically received a minimum bonus of $1,250.
“What we’ve accomplished as a year one TAP school, putting all the processes in place that are required as far as TAP goes, and just having the state recognize that by giving us that school score,” Kauffman said. “Of course, I’m very proud.”
Kauffman said that the monetary bonuses are well deserved, but more importantly is the fact that the students are learning and growing.
“To really see kids move and see them go up proficiency levels and watching them and tweaking instruction and all that - the conversations that are going on about that on a daily basis is probably even more important (than the bonus checks).”
Port Allen Middle School Principal Dr. Jonathon Szymanski agreed, saying that teachers don’t get into their profession to make a lot of money, rather, to help students reach levels of success.
“It’s a nice little touch to recognize your hard work, but that hard work would be there anyways, because we want what’s best for the kids,” he said. “I would give back every penny I made yesterday for all of our kids to be successful.”
Szymanski said that his school’s teachers and staff received more than $77,000 in bonuses because of the growth they’ve seen in the past year.
“We got a value added score of 5, which equates to us having grown almost two-years worth in one just year. That in itself is fantastic,” he said. “We’re not here for any other reason than the children, and we want to give them every opportunity to be successful, and TAP works for us.”
Corona said that he has bared witness to the successes of the TAP program in both the elementary and the middle school, adding that though he knows the pay outs are a great bonus for the teachers, he believes it is just that – a bonus.
“They didn’t embrace the program so that they could earn extra money, they embraced the program because they felt like it was a way to deliver education to their students in a better fashion,” Corona said. “And both of those faculties have worked their tails off to do that, and the fact that they’re getting extra money because of that, I’m just absolutely thrilled that they are – but that wasn’t there motivation for doing it.”
“Teachers don’t get into the educational field to make a whole bunch of money. Teachers get into the educational field because they feel a calling, to provide a service to the children of a community so they become valuable members of the community.
The fact that this program awards teachers extra money based on the outcomes of their kids is just icing on the cake.”
Corona said that 80% of the TAP pay outs come from the teacher incentive fund, a federal grant; the other 20% is paid by the school board.
Port Allen Elementary School held a program for their teachers on Tuesday, December 18, to present them their bonuses.
Kauffman said the program was meant to acknowledge the teachers and the hard work everybody put in last year to achieve their score of 5.
“The collaboration and the professional development that the teachers received through the guidance of the master and the mentor teachers is really huge,” she said. “Getting them to work on their skills as teachers and how they can improve in the classroom in order for students to achieve is pivotal.”
The elementary school held their program a day after Port Allen Middle School, where Szymanski highlighted the overall growth he has seen in the school since the 2008-2009 school year, his first year as principal.
He said that the school had 817 discipline referrals in 2008-2009 – a number that has dropped drastically, to only 87 this school year. He said that in the 2008-2009 school year, there were 30 fights that broke out in the school – this year there have been none.
“It just shows the quality of people we have in the school and the quality of students that we have. Nothing stops a committed team,” he said. “The bottom line is, when the teachers are getting compensated like they did (Monday), when our school’s getting (scores of) fives, our kids are learning and that’s why we’re here. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.