News & Notes

May 2019

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Message From The Superintendent

Dear Colleagues:

On May 24th, I will conclude my 39th year in education and my seventh year at Westside. I do so with gratitude and appreciation. While every last day of the school year is exciting and filled with the anticipation of summer break, this one is certainly bittersweet for those of us who are retiring.

There are 16 of us this year saying our final goodbyes to Westside, and several others leaving to continue their educational journey in new places. Each of these employees has touched the lives of so many children in countless ways, watching as our learners discover their talents and strengths, and helping them stimulate their imaginations to dream and to hope for a boundless future.

To ALL of our employees, whether you are celebrating retirement, leaving for new experiences or planning to return next fall, please know you have mattered. You have made a difference. You have made our vision and mission possible, which is to give every single child the opportunity to grow and to become a wonderful human being in a personalized learning environment.

Personally, I appreciate your commitment and dedication to this great community. Westside is so much more than a school district; it is a family of colleagues with a mission to serve the unique needs of all learners.

Several years ago, I spent a week with Catherine Bateson, the daughter of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, both noted anthropologists. Catherine told me that we will have two careers during our lifetime. Our first career is the one we are working at today that allows us to care for and provide for our families. The second career is where we pursue our passion that uses our many other talents and strengths, and allows us to relish in the activities we all dream of doing.

I challenge you to pursue your dreams and use your creativity to continue to make a difference in our world. To those of you returning in August, we know you will continue to take risks, look for what is “next” in our profession, and always advocate for what is best for our learners. If you are beginning a new chapter in your life, I challenge you to use your many talents in a new career or area of interest that nurtures your soul while using your strengths on a daily basis.

Education can be a tough career, but as I reflect back on that day in 1980 when I entered Riverdale High School near Ft. Myers, Florida, as a brand new educator, I still feel an immense sense of pride in saying “I am a teacher”. I am quite certain I would not change a thing. I would be a teacher again and again. It’s the best profession in our society. Truly, not one day have I regretted studying to become a teacher. And as you reflect back on the legacy each of you leaves behind, I hope you feel the same.

Congratulations to all of you on an outstanding school year. Please enjoy your summer vacation; you have all earned it!

It has been very difficult to write my final message through my many tears; it has been my privilege and an honor to serve as your Superintendent. I will truly miss each one of you and I wish you all the very best in the future. Please stay in touch!!

Yours in Education,


Staff Awards & Honors

Melissa Smith, Westside Middle School

CONGRATULATIONS to Westside Middle School nurse Melissa Smith, named the 2019 Excellence in School Nursing/Nebraska School Nurse of the Year! Melissa will receive her award on June 4 at the Awards Luncheon at the School Health Conference in Kearney, and will represent Nebraska at the National School Nurse Conference in Las Vegas in June 2020. Congratulations, Melissa!

Travis Vo, Westside High School

Congratulations to Travis Vo, Technology Support Specialist at Westside High School, elected as the first Educational Support Professional At-Large Representative on the Nebraska State Education Association Board of Directors! Congratulations, Travis!

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Westside Community Schools Retirees

THANK YOU and CONGRATULATIONS to the 16 employees who are retiring at the conclusion of this school year!

From left to right: Gregg Ratliff (WHS Teacher), Teri Williams (Hillside Instructional Coach), Kim Macziewski (Westbrook Reading Specialist), Sherry Webber (Prairie Lane Teacher), Alan Bone (Director of Student Services), Julie Herink (WMS Guidance Counselor), Brenda Zabel (WHS Teacher), Sandy Flynn (WMS Nutrition Services), Sue Stehly (WHS Teacher), Dr. Blane McCann, Pam Smith (WHS Nutrition Services), Matt Sheppard (WMS Teacher).

Not pictured: John Bergin, Marla Boyd, Ardys Hansum, Dirk Lindner

Snapshots Across The District

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Get To Know An Admin!


Assistant Superintendent, Teaching & Learning

HOMETOWN: Ralston, Nebraska

EDUCATION: Ralston High, Midland University, University of Nebraska at Omaha

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR JOB AT WESTSIDE? I lead and oversee the teaching, learning and leadership for staff and students in the Westside Community Schools.

INTERESTING FACT: Over 20 years ago, I was in a nationally televised commercial for Adidas.

FAVORITE BOOK and/or MOVIE: This year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day I watched Selma. It is a powerful story about a great man with whom I also share a birthday. I could see why it has the ratings it has received on sites like Rotten Tomatoes!

CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Having the opportunity to lead and be part of our current five year strategic planning process. The items outlined five years ago are being implemented and brought to life by our administrators, teachers, students, parents, community members, and support staff.

BEST MOMENT AT WESTSIDE: There have been many great moments. One of my favorites was having fun with my team a few years ago at the End of Year celebration when Enid, Bob and I did 'thank you notes' Jimmy Fallon-style for the teachers.

COLLEAGUE YOU ADMIRE & WHY: There are so many people in the field of education that I have admired. I most often cite the late Dr. Rick DuFour as my education idol. In addition to being an amazing speaker, writer and leader, he formalized a process for districts, schools and teacher teams to come together to collaborate, focus on learning, and focus on results. These processes guide many of the systems we have in place at Westside.

Non-Negotiated Employee Group Rate Increases for 2019-2020

At the School Board meeting on Monday, April 29th, the Westside Board of Education approved the 2019-2020 rate increases for our non-negotiated employee groups, as presented by Human Resources. The approved rate increases are as follows:

  • 3.60% increase for current employees in non-negotiated employee groups not otherwise specified below, and a 3.00% increase to the starting base pay for those employee groups
  • 4.00% increase for current Educational Assistants and a 3.50% increase to the starting base pay
  • Increase to substitute classified employee hourly rate so it is equal to the new starting base pay rate of the relevant classified employee
  • 3.45% increase for current Administrators
  • No change to Access 66 On-Call, Guest Teacher, or Part-Time Building Service rates

Non-negotiated employees will see these rate increases starting on their September, 2019

paycheck. The increase will also be reflected in the official 2019-2020 compensation letter in October, 2019.

Thank you for all that you contribute to Westside Community Schools. The work that you do is essential to the success of our District and our learners. Have a great remainder of the school year!

Baby News!

Nora Grace Bauers

Congratulations to Chase and Alexis Bauers, who have welcomed a baby girl into their family! Nora Grace was born at 3:30 am Thursday May 2nd. Chase is a Special Education Teacher at Westside High School, and Alexis is joining our district in the fall as an Elementary Special Education Teacher. Mom and baby are doing well! Congratulations!

Everett James Parys

Congratulations to Michelle Parys, 2nd Grade Teacher at Westbrook, who has welcomed a baby boy into her family! Everett James Parys was born April 12 at 3:41am, weighing in at 8 lbs and stretching to 21.5 inches long. Big sister isn't quite sure yet.. but everyone is healthy! Congratulations, Michelle and family!

Nebraska Teacher of the Year Award

Do you know a great teacher who deserves to be recognized? Nominate them for the 2020 Nebraska Teacher of the Year Award, sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Education!

CLICK HERE to get started!


Our condolences are with Jamie Frederick, as her father, David Deao, died last month. Jamie is a 2nd Grade Teacher at Hillside Elementary. Click here for a tribute to David. Thank you for keeping Jamie and her family in your thoughts.

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