Fridley Public Schools takes international approach to staff shortages
School districts around the country are having staffing shortages. But at Fridley Public Schools, they are getting creative to fill empty staff positions.
“I have never seen staffing shortages like I have the past three or four years,” Fridley Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Lewis said.
The district launched an international program this year to fill some of the district’s empty positions — from classroom teachers to maintenance staff. Lewis says they work with an agency to find qualified and certified teachers and then go through the U.S. Department of Labor to get visas.
“We help them with getting set up at a bank, we take them to the Social Security office, we have carpools for them,” Lewis said.
Currently, there are 14 international staff members working in the district, and 17 more are on the way.
Cheryl Opinio, 40, is one of them. She arrived in Fridley from the Philippines in December. She says she was eager to move to the United States for more opportunities.
“Right now, Fridley Public Schools feels like home. I love it,” she said.
Opinio was working as an elementary school teacher in the Philippines. Now she is a full-time substitute teacher at Fridley High School.
“They trust me. They believe in me,” she said.