Westside Community School District takes new approach solving teacher shortage

Teachers are leaving school districts across the metro at an alarming rate. But what's being done to solve the issue?
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 4:58 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Teachers are leaving school districts across the metro at an alarming rate.

But what’s being done to solve the issue?

One school district is now completely rethinking how it recruits and retains teachers.

Dylan McKee just graduated from Westside a few days ago. He’s on to the next phase of life: college.

But he already has a head start on his career.

“I wanted to just kind of get to know what teaching was because I didn’t really know what I was going to do after high school and I heard about this class so I decided to take it and I just fell in love with it,” said Dylan Mckee, Westside High School grad.

Over the past school year, he’s been teaching elementary students. He’s even created his own lesson plans.

This program is part of Westside Community Schools’ new approach to solving the teacher shortage.

“Part of that is growing a pipeline of educators to not only feed Westside but Omaha and Nebraska in terms of growing our own,” said Dr. Andrea Haynes, assistant superintendent of human resources.

The goal is to help foster the passion for teaching and once students get to college, follow them on their journey.

“We are going to have quarterly check-ins with our seniors and we are actually going to go back and do it with individuals who graduated two to three years ago because those individuals would be getting closer to graduation,” said Dr. Haynes.

The eventual goal is to hire former students as teachers.

Mckee still has a ways to go on his journey to becoming a teacher but he already has a place here once he graduates college.

“I said come on back…we will be ready to hire you,” said Dr. Haynes.

Mckee says the exodus of teachers leaving the profession isn’t swaying his mind.

“I feel like it’s not just the job. It’s kind of, you have to do it because we need teachers and we have to teach the next generation,” said McKee.

The district is also reaching out to veterans in the community to get them on track to teach.

They are also working with current educational assistants to help them finish their degrees and they are adding programs for current staff members to help retain staff.

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