Amy Hardesty commutes 175 miles every week from Oklahoma to North Texas to teach.
She leaves her home, husband and friends behind in Norman, Oklahoma to work in the Frisco Independent School District at Wilma Fisher Elementary School.
Hardesty is one of many Oklahoma teachers hired by local public school districts in North Texas amid Oklahoma's education crisis.
Local school districts are expanding and increasing staffing numbers to match the massive growth in North Texas. The numbers for new school, students, and staffing have all gone up and recruiting teacher talent remains a top priority.
Both The Dallas ISD and The Frisco ISD recruit throughout Texas and neighboring states. Earlier this year, Fort Worth ISD used billboards to recruit teachers in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norman and Stillwater. “Your future is in a Fort Worth classroom,” and “Teacher starting salary $52,000,’ was posted on each of the 10 billboards.
“I saw those billboards advertising starting pay for teachers, and my salary wasn’t even close to that as a veteran teacher,” said Hardesty, who has been teaching for 18 years. "So, it spurred me on.”
The minimum starting salary for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree in Oklahoma is $31,600. “It got me wondering, what would I make? What would my starting salary here in North Texas?" she asked.
Both Amy and her husband agreed that teaching in North Texas would be an opportunity she should not pass up. The kindergarten teacher eventually was one of 770 new teachers hired for the 2018-2019 school year with The Frisco ISD. “I’ve meet several teachers from Oklahoma, and even one teacher from another elementary school in Norman,” said Hardesty.
What makes her situation unique is the distance she travels to get to work. She commutes back and forth between Oklahoma to Texas every weekend.
“I rent out a unit in Frisco, but on the weekends I’m in mom mode," she said. "I make the two and a half hour trip back to Norman to see my husband. On the weekends I’m also going to my son’s football games out of state. I live a full life. There are obstacles, but there are no regrets."
The support she has received has been overwhelming. “People realize it is a sacrifice. This is what I needed to do for my family right now just to help," she said. "We’ve got two boys in college so making sure that we do, ya know, what’s best for them right now is our goal as parents. I’m also fighting for change in Oklahoma within our educational system. For now this is where I need to be and it’s been an adventure."
As NBC 5 reported in June, several districts confirmed that their respective school boards have approved raises for the coming school year.