Dr. McCann: Westside shows the meaning of giving
The following is from Dr. Blane McCann, Superintendent of Westside Community Schools
As I reflect on the recent passing of George H.W. Bush, I am reminded of his 1,000 points of light initiative he spoke about when active in politics. His commitment to public service and a kinder, gentler approach to governing got me thinking about the 1,000 points of light found in the Westside Community Schools. I would like to share some examples.
The photo above shows two Westside friends, Louden and Jeff. Louden is a 1st grader at Paddock Road; Jeff lives in our community and loves riding his bike near 90th and Center. A few weeks ago, Louden and his family found Jeff without his bike; it was very old, and had broken down.
“We saw Jeff not smiling for the first time in 14+ years,” recalls Louden’s mom, Jen Louden called his father, and asked if they could get Jeff a new bike. The family returned a few hours later, found Jeff in his neighborhood, and surprised him with a new set of wheels.
“Louden was smiling from ear to ear,” said Jen. “The best part is seeing Jeff riding it around town and Louden knows he helped make Jeff happy again.” It is great to see such an act of kindness in our year of #bekind. It is also wonderful to be reminded that those who give receive as much in return.
We can change the world through simple acts of generosity and kindness; we see proof of that through the Westside Foundation. In 2018 alone, 20 generous donors have committed $940,000 to the Westside Welding Program Expansion Project. This ambitious effort will prepare our future welders, engineers and all types of workers with state of the art equipment and facilities, giving them an incomparable jumpstart into industries that are in hot demand across our city and state.
Hundreds of Westside supporters have donated to the W Club, with more than $81,000 directly benefiting our students through scholarships and program support. Another $42,500 will directly impact our staff, rewarding our talented, dedicated teachers and encouraging them to stay here at Westside. These are not tax dollars; every penny was given to the Westside Foundation by generous donors who support our mission and vision. We can offer our students everything from STEM in Kindergarten, to Abstract Paint Pouring, to Computing & Circuitry to Life, all real examples of the programming made possible, thanks to Westside Foundation grants. We can identify areas of need, and fund strategic and powerful programs, like our planned Mental Health Initiative, and college and career partnerships in health sciences and information technology, along with the Nebraska Furniture Mart’s School of Entrepreneurial Thinking that includes other business partners using our students to solve business challenges.
Finally, we have countless points of light throughout our buildings: our teachers. We recently honored Westside High Science Teacher Judy Stucky as our November Teacher of the Month. Ms. Stucky has devoted her life to education and her students. When a colleague had a leave of absence, Ms. Stucky picked up her classes without being asked. Over the last two summers, she’s organized national seminars with NASA, and brought donated books to children in need in Peru. Her passion is endless, and her students see that and then mirror it in their own lives.
My goal the past seven years is to prepare students, not only for success in school, but for life beyond our doors. Students who walk across the stage at commencement are ready to step into whatever life has to offer them and be successful. We accomplish this goal with the generous help of the Westside Foundation, our staff members, and other community members who make up Westside’s 1,000 points of light.
Thank you to all who make that happen. Thank you to the Westside Foundation, and to our endless network of donors and supporters. Thank you to our very visible allies, our community club volunteers, our retirees, and all others who answer the call to personally help our students grow and thrive in our schools. Thank you to students like Louden and his family for showing us every day the power of giving.
‘Tis the season… not to receive, but to give. From my wife Marie and I, to all of our extended Westside family, Happy Holidays.
Dr. Blane McCann