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Lack of early childhood teachers in Billings

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Billings, Montana – Sunrise Montessori School is facing a problem at the moment since they have a waiting list of more than 30 kids.

“We’ve always had a short waitlist, this year it’s definitely increased,” said Cailyn Beeler, Sunrise’s director.

However, due to a teacher and staff deficit, the school is unable to accept any additional pupils.

According to Beeler, the school announced job opportunities in June and even increased the wage, but recruiting skilled workers is becoming more difficult.

“It’s very tough to recruit the type of people that we need in that position. They don’t need any specific training or experience but they need certain skill sets and it’s hard to compete when McDonalds pays what they do,” said Beeler.

Non-teaching employees and parents were even requested to volunteer in the classroom.

“We’ve had our school secretary step in, which means she’s not able to do her work. We’ve had to call in inexperienced parents to volunteer, which is wonderful, but not always the best case scenario,” said Beeler.

Additionally, the shortage makes it more difficult for current teachers to take vacation days.

“I take a lot of pride in my job and I want to be here, but we all need days, we all need days. It’s hard because I know somebody is going to be picking up my slack. I’m really only gone if I absolutely have to be,” said Kelly Simanton, a parent and a teacher at the school.

Simanton is concerned about the impact of the teacher shortage on students.

“It’s impacting the children the most. They’re the ones suffering and we’re doing our best, you know, but at the end of the day we are really seeing how that bit of stress… they really take on to and it’s unintentional, but we are doing our best to meet the children where they are,” said Simanton.

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