DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — For the past few years, many teachers around the nation and state left the education field — whether it was due to being burnt out from the pandemic or being underpaid.

Recently, the Alabama legislature approved the $8.3 billion education budget — giving k-12 teachers the largest pay raise since the 1980s.

“Well, it certainly makes you feel more appreciated and validates a little bit more of what you doing,” said Paula Carothers, a health sciences teacher at Houston County Career Tech Academy.

Under the new plan, all teachers will receive a 4 percent raise and those with nine or more years of experience can expect between a 7 to 20 percent increase in salary.

“When you look at Alabama our teacher pay has been about at the national starting average but it hasn’t received the step raises like other states,” Superintendent Brandy White said. “So now those teachers who are 10, 15, 20 years will get the pay that they deserve.”

Like Paula Carothers, who has been teaching for well over 20 years. Carothers is a registered nurse who teaches healthcare sciences at Houston Career Tech Academy.

She thought about entering back into the healthcare field during the pandemic to assist with the strain on nurses, but the pay raise will keep her around a little bit longer.

“This is a wonderful incentive because I can continue to do what I enjoy and continue to provide that pipeline for what we need in the healthcare profession because it all starts with the teacher,” She said.

After being signed by Gov. Ivey, the pay raise will go into effect Oct. 1.