First grader applies for Brainerd teaching position

Brainerd School Board members entertained an unlikely teaching candidate during their meeting Monday, May 8.

Dylan Pikula
Dylan Pikula, a first grader at Riverside Elementary School in Brainerd, holds his honorary staff badge, given to him by School Board members Monday, May 8, 2023.
Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch

BAXTER — The 2022-23 school year might not be over yet, but districts are already looking to hire new staff members for the coming fall.

Administrators in Brainerd received an unlikely teaching candidate.

He might be young, but he knows what he wants and is ready to dive in.

Headline News from the Brainerd Dispatch

Amid the hunt for new teachers, Dylan Pikula put in a video application for a position within Brainerd Public Schools.

“We’ve been talking about teacher recruitment/retention, and this video came to me Friday from a nice young man wanting to apply,” Superintendent Heidi Hahn told School Board members during their meeting Monday, May 8.


The catch?

He’s only 7.

Well, 7 and three-quarters.

Pikula happily states his age and his desire to be a staff member in his video.

“You’re pretty much overqualified, but we’re going to talk to you anyway,” Board Chair Kevin Boyles said after watching the video at Monday’s meeting and inviting Pikula to come to the front of the room.

“And part of that overqualification is, we don’t normally talk to people that are 7 or younger, but that three-quarters is a big deal,” Boyles added.

Pikula is a first grader at Riverside Elementary School and wants to be a teacher and a swimming instructor when he grows up. With those goals in mind, he worked with Riverside Principal Jill Bjorge to make his video application.

As an acknowledgement of Pikula’s ambition and initiative, board members made him an honorary staff member Monday, with Boyles presenting him with his very own staff badge — nearly identical to those worn by Brainerd Public Schools staffers.


“So I did talk to some other people here on the School Board, and we briefly discussed bringing you on as the assistant superintendent, but as it turns out, we have some budget problems, so we’re really not able to do that right now,” Boyles told Pikula, referencing the position that has been open since Hahn took over as superintendent last year.

Dylan Pikula - Pledge
First grader Dylan Pikula leads the Brainerd School Board in the Pledge of Allegiance during their meeting Monday, May 8, 2023.
Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch

“So we thought if it was OK with you, what we would do is we would hire you for this evening to take on a very important task for this meeting,” Boyles said. “…It’s a very critical part of every School Board meeting, and we really need your help with it.”

The task?

Leading the Pledge of Allegiance.

Pikula did so proudly, even continuing on after others had finished to incorporate a mantra from his school.

“Riverside Elementary School creates positive relationships by being respectful and responsive to ourselves and others,” he said.

After the meeting, Pikula said it felt good to lead the pledge and reiterated his goal to be a teacher someday.


THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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