Westside Community Schools employs 540 certified staff serving over 6100 students.
Westside’s certified staff is committed to the education profession and the district’s mission to meet the unique needs of all students. The average tenure of our certified staff is 17 years. However, like all districts, Westside has found itself in a period of larger than normal staff turnover for the past five years as a number of very experienced teachers qualify annually for the state retirement program. As a result of these retirements, approximately 50% of the district’s certified staff is newly hired in the past five years. However, the District remains committed to maintaining a rich base of experience at the same time that it brings eager newcomers into the profession. Hiring practices focus on finding the best candidates; some of them have experience in other districts while others are just beginning their professional careers.
Staff Education and Training
Westside believes that advanced education yields more knowledgeable, skilled, and up-to-date teachers. In 2009, 67% of Westside’s certified staff had advanced degrees. Since 1994 the District has required that all new hires not holding a Masters degree must earn one in the first 10 years of employment. The District helps teachers meet this requirement by funding a tuition reimbursement program that provides the motivation and resources necessary to support them in their pursuit of advanced degrees. The tuition reimbursement program is a valuable recruitment tool in today’s competitive hiring market. In addition, Westside Community Schools supports a professional development program that provides staff access to ongoing, research-based training opportunities at the district, building and individual levels. Finally, each year since its inception a number of Westside teachers have joined the 74,000 teachers across the nation who are National Board Certified Teachers by completing the National Board for Professional Standards’ highly rigorous and highly competitive professional evaluation in one of 25 certification areas. Our National Board Certified Teachers tell us that participating in this prestigious program was one of the most intense professional development experiences of their career.
Staff Recognition and Awards
Westside’s highly qualified certified staff members are excellent candidates for a variety of local, national, and state award programs that recognize professional excellence. A number of Westside elementary, middle school and high school teachers have been winners or semi-finalists for high visibility awards including the Milken Awards, Nebraska Teacher of the Year, the Nebraska Christa McAuliffe Prize for Courage and Excellence in Education, Nebraska’s Ak-Sar-Ben Ike Friedman Teacher Leader Awards, and the local Schrager Awards number of Westside administrators have won or been semi-finalists in prestigious national and state awards programs that honor the highly specialized role that building level and central office leaders play in creating schools of excellence. The District is proud whenever teachers and administrators are recognized for the hard work they do to assure that excellence is a daily reality in Westside schools.