TULSA -- Students went back to school for the first day of class, but some of them still have not met their permanent teachers.
District leaders at Tulsa Public Schools said they're still working to hire teachers, so more than 30 administrators have agreed to step in and fill the void temporarily, including Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist.
"I taught for a long time," Dr. Gist said. "I love teaching, and I love teachers. I'm in schools all the time and make sure people understand how hard it is, but, boy, was today ever a reminder."
Dr. Gist is temporarily teaching a third grade class at Marshall Elementary School, while the district waits on the results of a background check for a potential new hire. The district, however, still has 11 openings that have yet to be filled.
"We're hiring," Dr. Gist said. "We're interviewing right now. We're filling those positions, but, as needed, we'll make sure that we have folks in there to help us out in the meantime."
Frank Oakley, whose daughter just started fourth grade at Marshall, said he was surprised, yet impressed, to learn about the extra responsibilities that more than 35 administrators are taking on this school year.
"That's wonderful that we have employees willing to go beyond and make sure our children have the education whether we have teachers or not," Oakley said, "so that's great."
Dr. Gist expects her return to the classroom for the first time since the late 1990s to be brief. The new third grade teacher should start by the end of the week.
District leaders, however, do not have a timeline available for when the rest of the positions should be filled.
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