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A second ministry: Stewartville pastor answers the call for more substitute teachers

"Ministry is about people and teaching is about people — and about relationships. There's tons of crossover," Andrew Langseth said.

01 Teacher Feature - Andrew Langseth
Andrew Langseth, the lead pastor at Grace Church and a substitute teacher for Stewartville Public Schools, sings along with second graders during a music class on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, at Bonner Elementary School in Stewartville. Langseth became a sub through the school district's "Subs for Subs" program.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
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STEWARTVILLE — As a pastor in the community, stepping in to help the Stewartville School District seemed like a natural move for Andrew Langseth.

Earlier this year, the district put out a call to the community, asking anyone with a four-year degree to consider becoming a substitute teacher in an effort to address a shortage of workers.

As a pastor for Grace Church in Stewartville, there was plenty of overlap between the job Langseth was already doing and the role he was considering as a substitute teacher.

"Something that's neat about Stewartville is there's a really good relationship between the churches and the schools that's pretty unique and pretty special," Langseth said. "The churches and the schools have the same goal: to have students thrive — to do what's best for students."

Sometimes that relationship has meant providing free, safe events at the church following big school activities like homecoming. Or it could mean the community's faith leaders go into the schools to offer counseling after a tragedy.

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In this case, it meant offering an extra hand when the district was a little short handed.

As a pastor, Langseth already had Fridays off, allowing him time to spend in the schools.

Teacher Feature - Andrew Langseth
Andrew Langseth, the lead pastor at Grace Church and a substitute teacher for Stewartville Public Schools, plays piano and sings along with second graders during a music class on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, at Bonner Elementary School in Stewartville. Langseth became a sub through the school district's "Subs for Subs" program.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

Beyond that convenient issue of timing, though, Langseth was a good candidate. Before joining the church, he graduated with a degree in music education.

There's also plenty of similarities between his position at the front of the church and his role at the front of the classroom. For one, his teaching degree influenced how he works in the church and how he's able to communicate with his congregation.

"The second thing is ministry is about people and teaching is about people — and about relationships. There's tons of crossover," Langseth said.

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In his time subbing so far, he's been in each of the district's schools, jumping from one grade level to another and one subject to another.

Most recently, he spent his Friday helping young students at Bonner Elementary with their music lesson for the day. Langseth took to the piano and played "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," as the students sang along. Later in the class, the students learned a song for the Chinese new year.

For that particular day, Langseth was working with a student teacher who was helping the students learn about music.

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Although he's just now stepping in to teach, Langseth was no stranger to the halls of Stewartville's schools.

A graduate of the district himself, he now has six children of his own, spread out among each of the district's school buildings. His wife also is a teacher in the district.

"I've been working with students the last 15 years at the church, so it feels natural," Langseth said. "It just fit perfectly."

Jordan Shearer covers K-12 education for the Post Bulletin. A Rochester native, he graduated from Bemidji State University in 2013 before heading out to write for a small newsroom in the boonies of western Nebraska. Bringing things full circle, he returned to Rochester in 2020 just shy of a decade after leaving. Readers can reach Jordan at 507-285-7710 or jshearer@postbulletin.com.
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