How Westside Community Schools’ new programs are solving the teacher shortage

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OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) – These Westside Community School leaders know what drives the district forward. They are the teachers and they are looking for ways to get more and keep more.

“Our overall goal is just to really support the teammates that we have on staff, so they want to stay, and enjoy being involved here at Westside,” said Andrea Haynes, Westside Community Schools. “And then how do we, when these people are ready to move on, how do we build a pipeline of teachers to take their place?”

To create this pipeline, Haynes said a stipend for trainee teachers was needed. It will start in the fall.

“Being able to give them a small stipend could allow them to spend their time outside of the classroom teaching, planning, preparing and doing some hobbies and still being a good, well-rounded person,” Haynes said.

Schools want to ‘Grow Our Own’ by supporting current staff through another scheme at Midland University.

“We are working with very generous donors here in the Omaha community, as well as funds from Westside, to provide a teaching curriculum to some of our current paras and EAs in our district,” said said Haynes.

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 have been invited to participate. It’s something Haynes said other districts could implement.

“We may live in certain communities, but truly Omaha is our home and so building a better Omaha benefits us all,” Haynes said.

The district is also looking for ways for non-school staff, like cafeteria workers, to advance in their education and careers.

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