Some Westerville City Schools employees pull double duty, filling other roles as needed

·4 min read
David O'Bryan, whose full-time job for Westerville City Schools is mechanic, performs safety checks prior to driving a route Jan. 14. O'Bryan is among several district employees who are doing multiple jobs at a time when school districts are struggling with staffing shortages.
David O'Bryan, whose full-time job for Westerville City Schools is mechanic, performs safety checks prior to driving a route Jan. 14. O'Bryan is among several district employees who are doing multiple jobs at a time when school districts are struggling with staffing shortages.

From executive assistants helping serve food to a mechanic getting behind the wheel as a substitute bus driver, Westerville City Schools’ personnel are pitching in when and where needed so schools can remain open amid staffing shortages.

Greg Viebranz, executive director of communications and family engagement, said many people are stepping up, particularly in transportation but elsewhere, too.

Jill Beck, Superintendent John Kellogg's executive assistant, has helped serve lunch at Westerville South High School on at least three occasions.

“I was asked if I was able to go and help, and I said absolutely,” she said. “There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to help. We have 27 commitments we live by. One is to put all students first. That’s my motto. If I’m needed somewhere, you do what you’re asked to do. I’m happy to do it.”

The first time she was asked to help South, Beck said, she was on the serving line, handing out food and helping to keep things filled and prepared for the next day.

“It’s something different than I do all day,” she said. “It puts you in the front lines. In our profession, we’re here for the kids. No matter what you’re called to do, do it with a smile on your face and your heart in the right place.”

More: Westerville City Schools working to fill gaps in staffing shortages, including substitutes

She said South’s food-service staff are phenomenal, making sure students are fed every day.

“I was welcomed, and they were happy I would take time out to help them,” Beck said. “We all have to step up our game. It’s so important. I was raised that it’s never not your job.”

The approximately 12-year district employee said her regular position is varied, but for the most part, she serves as Kellogg’s “right hand.”

In addition to Beck, Jennifer Farris, executive assistant to deputy superintendent Mark Hershiser, also has answered the call to help food services.

The Westerville Board of Education approved a memorandum of agreement with the Westerville Education Support Staff Association on Jan. 10 titled “food service sub shortage support.”

It states that for the time period Jan. 4 through May 5, members of WESSA may provide support for the food-services department.

Compensation will be provided at an employee’s current rate of pay, according to the agreement.

Randy Snyder, Westerville schools transportation manager, said district mechanic David O'Bryan and warehouse driver Shelly Smith are two of the first employees in the district who spearheaded the movement to step up.

They both starting working as substitute school bus drivers in October, in addition to their regular jobs.

Smith, a Westerville school district resident, said she originally worked as a school bus driver beginning in 2000 but transitioned in 2016 to a warehouse driver.

In the that position, she helps distribute anything that comes in to the district, such as food, tables and chairs.

Smith said she doesn’t need a commercial driver’s license for the warehouse driving job, but she maintains that license.

“I fill in as a sub driver in the afternoons,” she said. “It’s different. I enjoy kids.”

Smith said she decided to start subbing as a driver because of the need to get students to school.

O'Bryan said he’s responsible for services and repairs to 20 of the district’s 119 buses in his role as a mechanic.

The 13-year district employee said he had driven a school bus for two years before becoming a bus mechanic.

“I got re-certified (as a driver),” he said. “I definitely believe in helping in other places. It’s how I was raised. If someone needs help, I’m here. We were definitely getting behind on our drivers. I was thankful to be able to drive again. I do enjoy kids. I want them to get their education.”

O’Bryan said he substitutes for whatever route he’s needed, driving every day the past few weeks.

He said he works as a mechanic from 5:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and the afternoon bus route starts at 2 p.m.

“Most of the time I end up with a middle school or elementary route because those are later,” he said.

O’Bryan, a Delaware resident who previously lived in Westerville for 24 years, said he would substitute for as long as he’s needed.

Snyder said going back to driving was natural for Smith and O’Bryan, whereas others are taking on unrelated responsibilities.

“Right now David and Shelly are impacting transportation,” said Snyder, who also has filled in as a bus driver.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

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This article originally appeared on ThisWeek: Westerville City Schools: Some employees fill other roles as needed