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Teacher of homeless students: 'They just need somebody to talk to'

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A report earlier this year noted that a one-day count found 10,214 homeless people in Minnesota, including more than 3,500 children.

The St. Cloud Times in a new story profiles one teacher on the front lines in an effort to help the state's homeless students. Nancy Gruber for eight years has been a traveling teacher for the homeless pupils at four elementary schools in the city.

“Often times, it’s not the academics that they’re behind on, it’s their emotional needs,” she tells the newspaper. “And my philosophy is if you get those emotional ties and those things in order, the academics will just come. Sometimes they just need somebody to talk to. They get individual attention. What kid wouldn’t want that?”

Gruber tells the Times that the hardest part of her job is thinking about what her students are doing when they are not at school.

In St. Cloud, officials have identified 195 homeless students in the St. Cloud school district, but officials expect that number to grow, the Times reports. There were a record 330 homeless students last year in the city. St. Cloud schools provide the students with extra teaching help, but also transportation to school, food, school supplies, activity fees and other basic necessities, including donated clothes, the Times reports.

The Wilder Research survey released last spring found Minnesota homelessness had increased 6 percent since since 2009.

The survey dispelled some myths and it undercut stereotypes of homeless people as grizzled old men. Wilder found 46 percent of the homeless are 21 or younger.

MPR noted the 22 percent increase in the number of two-parent families without housing.

Here's Wilder's announcement of the survey results, with links to more details.

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