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'This is a golden opportunity': Retired teachers filling gaps at JCPS

Last month, lawmakers allowed retired teachers to go back to work and still collect their pensions. JCPS educators are already taking advantage of the incentive.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Retired teachers are filling gaps in Kentucky schools after lawmakers passed a bill giving them more flexibility to teach full time. 

During the General Assembly's special session last month, lawmakers approved Senate Bill One. Part of the law allows retired teachers to come back to work full time while still receiving their pensions. 

Jefferson County Public School (JCPS) officials said they've hired five retired teachers through the incentive, and they are beginning a push to hire more. 

The district could hire as many as 600 retired teachers, and said right now there are about 150 open positions. 

RELATED: 'It's our calling and we take it seriously': Retired teachers could return to class after special session

Melissa Payne was already pulled back to her job as a chemistry teacher at Jeffersontown High School. 

Payne retired last spring, saying NTI burned her out. 

"I turned in my Bunsen burner and said I think I'm done," she said.

This year, she planned to ease back in with part-time work - until lawmakers passed Senate Bill One. 

"This is a golden opportunity and they're probably going to pay you what you're worth now," she said. 

To Payne, it's less about the money and more about how experienced teachers can help get students back up to speed. She said retired teachers have a knowledge base they can pass on to students and to younger teachers. 

"There's such gaps in their learning that a seasoned teacher can really look at a student and say 'I see what you're missing,'" she said.

Now that she's back in the classroom, Payne said she's more enthusiastic about staying, and may keep teaching for a few more years. 

“NTI is in the rearview mirror and I never want to see it again and getting that connection back made me want to do it," she said. 

Retired teachers who want to return to the classroom can apply here. 

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