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Midland University Partners with Westside Community Schools through Apprenticeship Program


As teacher shortages across Nebraska continue to increase, Midland University is working to find ways to help fill those voids in the education system.

The Nebraska Department of Education recently unveiled its Nebraska Teacher Apprenticeship Program, which seeks to bolster the recruitment and training of educators across the state through an apprenticeship model.

As part of the new Apprenticeship Program, Midland University is teaming up with Omaha Westside Community Schools through its Grow Our Own Education Assistant to Teacher Ladder Program. Midland’s partnership with Westside and other Nebraska districts opens the door for unique customized training and courses that support the needs of each individual district.

“The Nebraska Teacher Apprenticeship Program is a game-changer,” said Brian Maher, Nebraska Commissioner of Education, in a release. “By fostering strong partnerships between education providers and districts, we’re not just addressing the immediate need for more teachers, we’re investing in a future where every Nebraska child has access to highly qualified educators committed to their success.”

A recent report showed that more than 900 teaching positions at Nebraska schools were unfilled at the start of the 2023-24 school year. Dr. Sara Waring-Tiedeman, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for Midland University, said the goal of Midland University is to continue to create pathways to assist school districts in helping fill those voids. The program is part of the enactment of LB705 from the Nebraska legislature, which earmarks $1 million toward developing a mechanism to prepare future educators. 

“There are teacher shortages not just in Nebraska, but across the country, and we have to find additional pathways as solutions,” Waring-Tiedeman said. “Westside has been a great partner to work with, so this was a natural fit for us.”

Midland and Westside Community Schools have been connected for the past several years through Midland’s Teacher Career Ladder program, which aims to prepare anyone interested in teaching in an elementary classroom with the credentials to acquire a teaching certificate. This new partnership targets paraprofessionals within Westside Community Schools who are interested in gaining their teaching certificate.

“We are excited to expand our partnership with WCS in a way that will bring a new funding source to their district and assist them in helping solve the teacher shortfall,” Waring-Tiedeman said. “These are individuals who work at Westside, might have children who attend Westside schools, and are invested in the district. They started as an education assistant in the district, then realized they could be a teacher and it was something they wanted to pursue. This is a great avenue to connect with those individuals who have a vested interest in the community and school district.”

The Apprenticeship Program focuses on hands-on training, allowing apprentices to work alongside their supervising teachers directly within the classroom. Through Midland’s TCL program, individuals are required to complete 100 hours of field-based experience before they begin student teaching. The apprenticeship program will require the same amount of hours, with those pre-service teachers required to complete those hours working for Westside Community Schools.

“These are individuals who are invested in the longevity of staying in this profession,” Waring-Tiedeman said. “They have that experience of being in the classroom and they know what it takes to be a successful teacher.”

The apprenticeship program takes two years to complete and is eligible to any Westside Community Schools employee, with approval from WCS. Upon completion, teachers will be certified elementary school teachers and with additional endorsements in ESL, Special Education, or Early Childhood Development. 

If interested in learning more about creating a strategic partnership contact, or for anyone interested in the TCL program, contact Waring-Tiedeman at

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