LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK) – Before school even begins several Longview ISD teachers got a big payday on Friday morning. District staff gathered to celebrate their co-workers and getting back into the classroom.

“It is huge, it’s, first of all, it’s a lot of money, it’s life-changing money,” said Melanie Pondant, principal and head of school at Judson STEAM Academy.

Melanie Pondant has worked in Longview ISD for 16 years. She is now the principal at Judson STEAM Academy and 12 of her teachers received a check this Friday morning.

“It is great for retention, they’re not staying here just for the money, they stay here for the students and because of this district,” said Pondant.

Judson employees weren’t the only ones lucky enough to receive money. The district was able to give 148 educators almost $2,000,000. It’s all thanks to the Teacher Incentive Allotment or TIA.

“Is a pathway for teachers to make a six-figure salary for a 187-day contract in the classroom,” said John York, Teacher Incentive Allotment Lead and Human Resource Officer, Longview ISD.

Superintendent Dr. James Wilcox said it is an honor to be able to celebrate the people making an impact in students’ lives.

“We want our teachers today to know that the district and our board of trustees appreciate the job they do for the children of Longview, that’s it, that’s it, we think they’re the best and we want to treat them like we know they’re the best,” said Dr. James Wilcox, Superintendent, Longview ISD.

He added that every year they’ve been able to give more money and the hope is to give even more in 2024.

“Next year we want to double it and when teachers see it’s real, you know a lot of times we need to make sure something’s real before we get excited about it, I look for that number to double next year I really do,” said Dr. Wilcox.

For staff members to receive incentive checks they have to meet certain guidelines. Non-testing educators qualify when they get their national board certification. For testing teachers it’s based on the students.

“It’s all about student growth and your performance in the classroom,” said York.

“When teachers get that money, that means kids grew, that means kids are growing in our district, we’re creating and impacting these beautiful lives with these amazing teachers and we’re paying them for it,” said Pondant.

Pondant said she is amazed by the number of teachers that continue to receive the life-changing checks and she hopes it never ends. Classes for students at Longview ISD begin on Wednesday morning.