Threats and burnout pushed a Teacher of The Year to resign education post – MPR News

Threats and burnout pushed a Teacher of The Year to resign education post – MPR News

A former Minnesota Teacher of the Year and current elementary school principal, Ryan Vernosh underscored the depth of the levels of stress and burnout last week when he resigned from a state education policy board and then outlined why he did so on social media.

On Twitter Friday, Vernosh posted his resignation letter, citing the pressures of teaching during COVID and increased threats to his safety over pandemic protocols at his school, Brimhall Elementary in Roseville, for the resignation. But his primary reason for stepping down, he said, was his own mental health.

The following is a transcription of the conversation, lightly edited for clarity. To hear the full interview, use the audio player above.

You said in your letter that as a principal right now, ‘My days and nights are spent in educational triage.’ What do you mean by that?

What I mean by that is my typical role as a principal is to coach teachers to help students and improve instructional practices. Right now, due to an immense staffing shortage and the increased needs that we see within our students, most of my time is spent less on helping instruction happen and more on just making sure that our students are feeling safe, that our students are getting their needs met and trying to connect students and families to mental health resources that we may have in school, but also what may be available outside of school.

Are you still teaching?

Well, I am substitute teaching. I actually taught music class for a little bit yesterday and will be in fifth grade and kindergarten a little bit this morning.

That’s not just unique to our district. This is something happening in districts everywhere. And I’m very fortunate to serve in a district that has a really strong plan in place to support principals [and] teachers. And it is still immensely challenging — borderline impossibly hard — to navigate on a daily basis.

I’m assuming that you’re also experiencing staffing shortages at your school?

Oh, yes, we are. There’s just not enough people out there who are able to come in to substitute teach. And when we have our own staff who gets sick, who have their own kids, who [have] daycares that, unfortunately, quarantine because of the increased spread of COVID, that just makes it extra hard. And teachers also deserve to have their personal days.

Because teachers are people, [they] are humans first. And we need to make sure that we’re honoring that time — which they have a right to — are supported when they need their own time to address their own mental health needs.

You also mentioned threats to your safety over the pandemic protocols in place at the …….