Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Mike Bradley ()
Communications and External Relations


UT-Battelle uses signing bonus to recruit math and science teachers

(From left) Jennifer Wilson and Barbara Roark, new math teachers at Union County High School, and Rocky Warren, who will teach science for the Morgan County school system, have signed on under the UT- Battelle signing bonus program.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Aug. 11, 2006 — UT-Battelle, which manages Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has launched an innovative new plan to strengthen math and science education in East Tennessee.

The company has paid a $10,000 "signing bonus" as an incentive for three teachers, two starting in Union County and one in Morgan County. UT-Battelle also is talking with other area schools in rural communities that have had difficulty attracting qualified math and science teachers. "This is a great recruiting tool for schools and a terrific career incentive for the teachers," said Barbara Roark, who will teach math under the program at Union County High School. "I look forward to teaching in Union County, and this program is one of the main reasons I'm here."

Union and Morgan counties are the first to participate in the initiative that focuses on schools where math and science teaching positions have been vacant for at least one year. UT-Battelle offers $10,000 up front to certified teachers who agree to teach at least three years. The financial transaction is between UT-Battelle and the teacher, with no money passing through the county government or the school system.

Jennifer Wilson also joins the faculty at Union County this fall in what will be her first teaching job. The school also recently received $10,000 from UT-Battelle to equip a new science lab.

"This program is especially helpful to someone like me who is just starting their career in education," Wilson said.

Rocky Warren, who has a Ph.D. in chemistry and did post-doctoral work at ORNL, will teach chemistry, physics and biology classes in Morgan County. Warren also recently completed the Transition to Teaching program through the Tennessee Department of Education to accelerate teacher certification for professionals in other careers.

"I have had a great career (in private industry) and would like to share some of my knowledge to help educate young people," said Warren. "The signing bonus is the incentive I needed. I hope the program can help attract those in other professional fields who are considering a teaching career."

UT-Battelle initiated the signing bonus program as one of several efforts to improve math and science education in East Tennessee schools. UT-Battelle also sponsors a variety of science competitions and has provided approximately $350,000 to equip science laboratories in Tennessee schools. A spokesperson for UT-Battelle, which has received interest from other area schools seeking to hire new math or science teachers, said the company is prepared to offer five signing bonuses a year and hopes that other Tennessee companies will join their effort.

UT-Battelle manages Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the Department of Energy.