Breaking News
More () »

St. Paul school addresses staffing shortage by recruiting parents

Battle Creek Elementary has at least six parents of students on staff, and the familial connection goes even deeper.

ST PAUL, Minn. — One week into the new school year at Battle Creek Elementary in St. Paul, Brittany Oliveraz is navigating a new commute to work as a special education teacher's assistant.

"I'm still getting to know the routine and just having fun," Brittany said.

The fun includes a new kind of drop-off routine for her daughter, Addy, who is now commuting alongside her mom, and learning just down the hall.

"I wanted to apply because I knew Addy was here," Brittany said. "It's just easier for us to come together and leave together."

"It feels great," Addy said. "I was very happy when she started working here."

There are several students and parents at the school who know the feeling.

"I think there's six of us now," said Marcy Berenato, Battle Creek's Parent Liaison, who has a second grader learning down the hall. "It's worked really great for our family."

Though it's certainly not uncommon for a parent to work in the same building as their student, this year, St. Paul Public Schools made it a point to recruit more parents into new roles, in an effort to reverse years of understaffing.

The strategy has certainly paid off at Battle Creek Elementary.

"We are 100% fully staffed," said principal Kristen Longway. "I've also found that by recruiting our parents, word travels, and other family members actually reach out and are interested in coming to work at our school as well."

Though, in most cases, that does not mean they work in the same room as their child or relative.

"Nope, I'm not in (Addy's) class," Brittany Oliveraz said. "We still need space. She has her own little area and then I have my area. We see each other during lunch and recess and then, after that, we're good."

School leaders say the benefits extend beyond the family members themselves.

"When parents are involved with their children's education we all win," Berenato said.

"It's people who we know are invested in our students and they want to be here helping fellow students grow and learn," Longway said.

In turn, the school is also invested in helping its new staff members grow into their new roles.

"For the first week, I make sure they shadow others," Longway said. "And that way they can ask questions, they can learn the position, we continuously check in with them to see how they feel about the position, so we really try to make sure that they're supported, so that they stay."

And if staying is the ultimate measure of success, there's already a promising sign courtesy of Brittany Oliveraz.

"I'm actually going to go to school for this so hopefully in two years I'll have my license and then I'll be a teacher," she said.

Not all St. Paul schools have been as successful at filling open positions as Battle Creek, but according to SPPS the pitch to parents is part of the reason why there are now fewer than 100 open classroom positions across the district. There were more than 300 jobs that went unfilled last year.

Watch more Breaking The News:

Watch all of the latest stories from Breaking The News in our YouTube playlist:

Before You Leave, Check This Out