News & Notes

February 2019

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Visit Blane's Blog!

Did you know Westside Superintendent Dr. Blane McCann has a blog? His articles exploring personalized learning, integrating technology, schoolwide enrichment and more have been shared by professional publications across the country.

CLICK HERE to read more!

Staff Awards & Honors

Tommy Krueger, Westside High School

Tommy Krueger, Director of Bands at Westside High School, has been selected as recipient of the Nebraska State Bandmasters (NSBA) Jack R. Snider Young Band Director Award. Krueger’s students have received numerous accolades throughout the state, been invited to perform at high profile events, and have earned awards at competitions throughout Nebraska and the Midwest. He will receive his award at the NSBA State Conference in Lincoln on March 1. Congratulations, Tommy!

Westside Counseling Team

Last month, Karin Mussman, Mary McPadden (Oakdale), and Megan Poell (Westbrook) all presented at the Tier 2 Strategies to Support Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Needs conference at ESU. "They were amazing!" said fellow Westside Counselor, Jessica Lowe at Westbrook.

Garret Higginbotham, Rockbrook

February 9, Rockbrook Principal Garret Higginbotham took the plunge - literally - participating in the 2019 Omaha Polar Plunge. Garret, who has also helped organize Unified activities throughout the district for children of all abilities, raised $470 for Special Olympics Nebraska!
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Snapshots Across The District

Songs of Praise for Westside Music Teacher

The following message was shared recently by a Rockbrook Elementary student grandparent..

"I attended the concert last night and want that music teacher [Nolan Pribnow] to know what a phenomenal job he is doing and how good the concert was. This team is so important, and it is important young children start singing songs, and we are putting these messages into young minds of caring for one another. It is absolutely great. Thank you."

"Both the music and the message have a strong impact on kids. We want to recognize that in any way we can." - Garret Higginbotham, Rockbrook Principal

Mason James McMeekin

Congratulations to Molly McMeekin, 3rd Grade Teacher at Sunset Hills, who welcomed a little boy into her family on January 14! Mason James McMeekin weighed 7lb, 1 oz; baby, mom, dad and big sister Olivia are all doing well!

Get To Know An Admin!


Assistant Principal of Teaching and Learning, Westside High School

HOMETOWN: Omaha, Nebraska


- Bachelor of Science, Secondary Education, 7-12 English & Journalism (UNO)

- Master of Education, K-12 Literacy (UNO)

- 7-12 Principal Certificate (UNL)

- Current student in the doctoral program at UNO, Educational Leadership

CAREER HIGHLIGHT & BEST MOMENT AT WESTSIDE: I have many special moments at Westside, but my experience as a reading teacher at the high school shaped who I am and what I believe as an educator. When I was in the classroom, I had the opportunity to revise some of the English and Reading courses for our striving readers in a way that provided them supports while accessing the college-bound curriculum. Teaching those courses solidified the importance of relationships and high expectations for all students, and those beliefs are at the core of all of the decisions I make now as an administrator.

INTERESTING FACT: I enjoy trivia, and the group of people I play with have a winning streak for the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. We lose most of the time, but Thanksgiving brings us luck.


- Book: To Kill A Mockingbird

- Movie: Boyhood

COLLEAGUE YOU ADMIRE AND WHY: I admire so many people at WHS, but one person who doesn't get enough credit for being jack-of-all-trades is our Deans' Office Administrative Assistant, Jamie Jank. Jamie is always willing to go above and beyond for all of us, take on extra responsibilities, and make improvements to existing structures. She makes all of our lives easier every day and is always a smiling face for some of the students who come to our office in not the best of moods.

BEST MOMENT AT WESTSIDE: I don't think I have one best moment. Once and a while, I hear something from a teacher, or a student says something, or you bump into a graduate, and I realize that all of the little things did make a difference, even if it didn't seem like that along the way. We don't always see the positive change right away in education, and so when we get to see or hear about the positive impact, it's a daymaker.

Grant & Award Opportunities

Do you know a courageous teacher?

Courage is an important quality not often recognized in teachers. The Christa McAuliffe Prize for Courage and Excellence in Education honors this special form of courage; that exhibited by teachers. The prize is awarded annually by the Nebraska Council of School Administrators to a Nebraska teacher. The winning teacher receives a $1000 stipend and a plaque.

CLICK HERE to learn more or nominate a teacher.

Innovation in Education grants available

Cox Communications is currently accepting applications for $2500 Cox Charities Innovation in Education grants. All educators from Pre-K to 12th grade in both public and private Omaha area schools are invited to apply. The deadline is Friday, March 1.

CLICK HERE to apply.

Thousands offered for teacher-based projects

The RBP teacher grant program was started in 1987 to provide an expanding source of funds for small, but important, teacher-based projects. These projects are designed to encourage innovations and development of teachers' ideas for their classrooms where the students have a hands-on part of projects. 10 grants of up to $1000 will be awarded to Omaha area educators. The deadline to apply is March 22.

CLICK HERE to apply.
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Our condolences are with family and friends of Ken Van Zandbergen, who died last month. Ken's wife, Betty, was an Educational Assistant at Westside Middle School for many years. His daughter, Kris Luxon, is a retired teacher, and his granddaughter, Bryn Johsnon, is an art teacher at Prairie Lane and Rockbrook. CLICK HERE for a link to Ken's obituary.

Anne Boyle died February 2. Two of her sisters work with us here at Westside; Dorothy (Dottie) Bruckner is a member of our Nutrition Services team at Sunset Hills, and Rose Kent is a hall monitor at Westside High School and longtime member of Nutrition Services. Click here for a tribute to Anne.

Our condolences are also with family and friends of Vincent Moragues, who died on February 5. Vincent taught at Westside for 30 years at both Westbrook and Westside Middle School, retiring in 1995. Click here for a tribute to Vincent.

We also extend our condolences to Judy Stucky as her mother, Carol Ann Lebakken, died Sunday, February 17. Judy is a Science Teacher at Westside High School. A memorial service for Carol will be held in June. Click here for a tribute to Carol.

Thank you for keeping all of these colleague and their loved ones in your thoughts.

Westside Employee Assistance Program

Sometimes life has ups and downs. Did you know . . . .

Westside Community Schools Provides EAP (Employee Assistance Program) and Care24 (for employees with UHC medical insurance through the District). These plans are there for you to keep a well balanced and productive life. This service is a free and confidential benefit. Please see the fliers below for more information.

Donate Your Old Phones to WHS!

Have an old phone? The Westside High School Social Studies Department is looking for phone donations to conduct Google virtual tours in class! They are looking for Samsung Galaxy S5 or newer OR iPhone 6 or newer.

If you would like a tax-deductible form for the donation, please drop off your phone with your name and address to Westside High School, attention Amy Studts.