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Back where it all began

Chelsea with kindergarten photo In 2006, Chelsea Johnson was a fourth-grader at Sheridan Hills Elementary. That’s when she decided she wanted to be a teacher. After school, she would head over to Mrs. Schleyer’s third-grade class to grade spelling tests and help out in whatever way she could. Over the summer, she would create math tests to administer to her younger brother and pretended to be his teacher.

Her commitment to teaching and to Richfield Public Schools only grew stronger over the years. When Chelsea graduated from Richfield High School in 2015, she and her mother were still volunteering to bake dinners for staff during parent-teacher conferences and supporting Richfield teachers in whatever ways they could.

Last spring, Chelsea earned her Master of Education from the University of Minnesota. That’s also when she attended the Minnesota Education Job Fair at the Convention Center.

“The first booth I stopped at was Richfield Public Schools,” recalls Chelsea. “I spoke with Superintendent Unowsky and told him I was a Richfield graduate and that I would love to work in the Richfield School District.” After she made her pitch, she noticed the display board with photos from Richfield Public Schools and she was amazed to see her sixth-grade self - right in the middle! “I turned to the Superintendent and said ‘See? That’s me! It’s a sign! Now you have to hire me.’”

Unfortunately, the District wasn’t hiring any kindergarten teachers at the time. Chelsea applied anyway and hoped for the best. A week before the start of school, she received an offer for a long-term substitute position at Sheridan Hills Elementary – teaching kindergarten in the very same classroom where she had been a kindergartener!

“It was very surreal at first,” says Chelsea, reflecting on the start of the year. “My former teachers saw me and asked if I was visiting - it was fun to tell them that I was here to teach!”

Chelsea has thoroughly enjoyed her position this year. She says the students have all been amazing and the staff are very supportive.

Her long-term substitute assignment ends this winter, but she’s excited to be moving to the room next door to teach pre-k for a teacher who will be going out on maternity leave in February.

“If I could, I’d teach in Richfield forever,” she says. “Hopefully I can find a permanent position in the District next year.” If her students have any say in the hiring decision, they would say “YES!!!”


Photo: Chelsea holds up a picture of herself as a kindergarten student at Sheridan Hills Elementary.