Many teachers are hitting the open road these days, in search of better pay and smaller classes. It's happening in Leon County. April Douglas continues her special report by following one teacher across state lines to get to the classroom. It was all about a bigger paycheck in the beginning. Now, the money has taken a back seat to an even bigger pay off.
Even as a child, Marie Briggs always knew she'd end up at the head of the class. It's that passion that drives her across state lines to work Monday through Friday. Marie is a Florida resident, but is a teacher with the Georgia school system.
"Initially a matter of convenience, we live in northeast part of Tallahassee and pay scale was higher at the time. Even since then that's almost been secondary, because Thomasville school system is good place to work," says Marie.
Many more migrate to Thomasville to teach. Here's one reason why. The starting salary for a first year teacher right out of college in Leon County is $28,100, just half an hour up the road in Thomasville it's $30,259.
While Florida is busy looking for ways to cut class sizes to 22 students in grades 6th-through the eighth grade. Sixth grade teacher Marie Briggs is already enjoying the benefits of a low student to teacher ratio.
"Smaller class size is essential. One on one teaching is critical smaller classes more manageable every teachers dream," says Marie.
It wasn't fatter paychecks or dreams of smaller classes that brought Gene Christie to the Peach State. It was athletics. With Georgia on his mind, he landed a job at MacIntyre Park Middle School, and more than 20 years later he's still a bulldog.
"At first I was commuting after first month thought commuting wasn't a good idea so I found a place to stay, been here ever since," says Gene.
For now, Marie is following the path of her childhood dream and helping others find their way through the art of academics.
Marie Briggs has been with the Thomasville City school system for 15 years, and ironically she lives just blocks from a Leon County school. The average salary for a first year teacher in Florida is a little more than $30,000. In Georgia it is just under $30,000.
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