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Best Buy employee becomes substitute teacher to help schools in Minnesota

Shannon Smith has walked the halls of her children’s Minnesota elementary school many times as a parent. Now she’s getting used to taking those same steps as a teacher.  

An associate product manager on Best Buy’s Digital, Analytics & Technology team, Shannon recently became a substitute teacher. She was motivated to get licensed after seeing the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating impact on her school district, including the loss of several teachers and bus drivers.   

“Schools are hurting for teachers right now,” she said. “With everything going on with the pandemic, I really wanted to do something to help.”  

Teacher shortages have been an ongoing issue across the U.S. during the pandemic. The need for substitute teachers has also increased when teachers miss school because of quarantine or caring for loved ones.   

From A to Z 

Although she had no prior teaching experience, Shannon applied for her short-call license in January, after earning her bachelor’s degree in Information Technology in December.  

A short-call substitute teaching license allows instructors to teach up to 15 consecutive days per teaching assignment. To apply, applicants need to have a bachelor’s degree, undergo a background check, complete an interview, and pay a fee. 

“The cool thing about being substitute teacher is you can sign up when you’re available,” Shannon said. 

Despite juggling a flexible full-time career, in addition to being a wife and mother of three, Shannon says being a substitute is not too much of a time commitment. She plans to support the K-5 grades and work two to four times a month using her PTO days.  

Shannon mentioned that there are other areas within schools that need support if people want to help. “They’re looking for people to volunteer as paraprofessionals [teacher assistants] or in the lunchroom,” she said.  

As she begins this new adventure, Shannon’s approach will be to go into the job with a fear-free mentality and an open mind. And her end goal is simple: helping the school district she lives in.  

“Even one person can make a difference,” she said.