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Westside Community Schools addresses the teacher shortage: 'Building a better Omaha benefits all of us'

Posted at 7:21 PM, Jun 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-28 20:21:51-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — These Westside Community Schools leaders know what makes the district go. It's teachers and they are looking at ways to get more and keep more.

"Our overall goal is just to really support the teammates that we do have on staff, so that they want to stay, and they value their involvement here at Westside," said Andrea Haynes, Westside Community Schools. "And then how do we, when those individuals are ready to move on and do other things, how do we build a pipeline of teachers to take their place?"

To create that pipeline, Haynes said a stipend for student teachers is necessary. That will start in the fall.

"Being able to give them a small stipend, might allow them to then spend their time outside of the actual classroom student teaching, in planning, in prep and just doing some hobbies and staying like a good well-rounded individual," Haynes said.

The schools want to 'Grow Our Own' by supporting current staff through another program at Midland University.

"We are working with some very generous donors here in the Omaha community, as well as some Westside funds, to provide a program of study into teaching for some of our current paras and EA's in our district," Haynes said.

Haynes said 16 teachers are expected to graduate from this program in the spring of 2024.

The program will support Westside, but Papillion, Millard and Nelson Mandela were invited to participate. It's something Haynes said other districts could implement.

"We may live in certain communities, but really Omaha is our home and so building a better Omaha benefits all of us," Haynes said.

The district is also looking at ways for non-classroom staff, such as cafeteria workers, to move ahead in their education and careers.

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