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Parents step in as emergency substitute teachers in Lake Washington School District

With temporary school closures and staff shortages mounting, school leaders hope more parents will step into the classroom.

KIRKLAND, Wash. — Angela Meekhof started a new job today. 

She’s a Lake Washington School District parent who stepped into the classroom as an emergency substitute teacher for Mark Twain Elementary school. 

“I think right now it’s easy to feel down and even just complain, but this seemed like a great way to be a part of the solution,” Meekhof said. 

Another Lake Washington School District parent Mary Oemig just received her guest staff badge and is ready to step into the classroom when needed. She's also a business owner and is challenging other businesses to follow her lead. 

“I challenge all businesses here in Washington to do the same. It’s a staffing problem, and they just don’t have enough teachers right now with people getting sick. I hope more people will reach out to their school district and step up,” Oemig said.

Dr. Jay Ross with the Lake Washington School District agrees.

“I think it’s exciting when parents recognize that they can partner, and we are certainly in a time when the partnership is needed,” Ross said. 

The application process for emergency substitute teachers includes a background check and getting an emergency certification with the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. The certificate will only be valid for the school district parents apply to and will remain valid for two years. 

Anyone interested in applying to be an emergency substitute should contact their district. Applications may also be available on the district's website. Dr. Ross says some schools have seen great support already, but the need is growing. 

“Lake Washington School District will be very timely in responding because that’s where our efforts are focused right now,” Ross said.