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Impact on students: Gretna High School teacher encourages next generation entering healthcare profession

Posted at 6:01 PM, May 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-01 19:01:55-04

GRETNA, Neb. (KMTV) — A few years back, you wouldn't find Kim Wasalaski in a classroom, but rather in a different career as a nurse.

"As a nurse, you're an educator in the fact that you're teaching the patient how to have the best outcome," said Wasalaski.

She teaches different nursing classes to students interested in the field. Her career pivot comes at a time when the state is dealing with a teacher shortage. According to the Nebraska Department of Education, there were over 900 unfilled or vacancies in 2023. That's up from the previous year when the state reported over 760 unfilled or vacant positions.

She tells me she made this transition to encourage and share her knowledge with young people.

"We've got to encourage the young adults and stuff like that," said Wasalaski. "From there, the spark just got bigger."

And those young adults are students like senior Makaila Wadsworth, who said learning from Wasalaski helped solidify her choice to go into the nursing field.

"For me, that's all that I've ever seen myself as," said Wadsworth. "I love to go help people. I'm constantly someone's that like if you need help, I'm right there for you."

Wasalaski said in order to make a difference for students, it starts with making sure teachers feel supported in their environment.

"I come every day because I feel supported because I feel like I make a difference. And I think to have that feeling would encourage young teachers if they had a community to be a part of to keep retention," she said.

She recently won the grades 9-12 educator of the year award from the Gretna Public Schools Foundation for her dedication and service to students in the classroom.

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