The State Board of Education approved more than 900 emergency teachers on Thursday.
From Broken Arrow to Shawnee and all the way out to the panhandle there are more emergency certified teachers in Oklahoma schools than ever before. At Gilcrease Elementary there are eight emergency certified teachers which is more than double than last year.
Greg Bilbruck is one of those teachers who learned he was needed in this 5th-grade classroom just a few days ago.
"I decided because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children," said Bilbruck.
Emergency certified teachers have a wide variety of educational backgrounds from a bachelor’s degrees in Tourism, Psychology, or Agriculture to a Master’s in Business Administration.
Bilbruck has a master’s degree in Theology and is a former Army drill sergeant.
"They like that, and they say 'wow,' you know, 'he was a drill sergeant.' And they expect yelling and stuff. But I don't do that anymore," said Bilbruck.
Gilcrease Principal Tasha Johnson says it doesn't matter where they come from as long as they want to be here.
"What's most important is having teachers and caring adults who are all in, and who want to do the job. I can teach you to teach. I can't teach you to care," said Johnson.
In the 2017-2018 school year, there were 1,975 emergency certified teachers across the state. So far this year there are more than 2,153, which were approved by the board in June, July and August. That means the state surpassed last year's total number in just three months.
"The thing that we should be investing in the most is our future. And if this is our future, why are we short-changing it?" said Bilbruck.
People can become emergency certified teachers year-round, on an as-needed basis. Which means numbers across the state could continue to rise and fall throughout the school year.