A former superintendent, a journalist and a songwriter and playwright are the latest to be honored as Westside Hall of Fame recipients.
Jacquie Estee, who retired as superintendent this summer, was honored for her 40-year education career with the district. Estee, who attended Westside schools and graduated from Westside High School in 1968, started teaching at Sunset Hills Elementary after her graduation from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1972. She served in a variety of posts before becoming the district’s first female superintendent in 2008.
Kristin Grady Gilger, who graduated from Westside High School in 1971, worked as a journalist for more than 20 years, including the Times-Picayune in New Orleans and the Arizona Republic in Phoenix. While an editor and bureau chief for the Times-Picayune, she received the National Headliner Award for Public Service in Journalism for a yearlong project on race relations in New Orleans. She began working as director of student media at Arizona State University in 2002 and assistant dean for ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2007. She conducts seminars for journalists worldwide.
Karen Sokolof Javitch, a 1968 graduate, began her career as a teacher, working at schools in Austin, Texas, and Omaha. She has co-written a parenting book, written and produced 14 CDs of her original music and written four musicals and one play, including “Princess Diana: The Musical.” She currently co-hosts a weekly radio show on 1290 KOIL radio and has helped a long list of area organizations through her philanthropic work. She and her husband, Gary, are the parents of three adult children, all of whom attended Westside schools.
The Westside Community Schools also named three recipients of its Lighthouse Leader award, which recognizes individuals or businesses for their contributions to the district.
Sue and Steve Seline, parents of four Westside students, have been longtime supporters of the district and community volunteers and leaders. Sue Seline currently is president of the Westside Foundation. She is also past chairwoman of the Omaha Press Club and the Omaha Children’s Museum and serves on the boards of Take Flight, the Munroe-Meyer Institute and the Christ Child Society. Steve Seline has supported Westside’s debate and DECA programs. He is past chairman of Children’s Hospital and the Salvation Army and is chairman-elect of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.
Ken West, a principal at the DLR Group, has had a long professional and personal relationship with the district. During his nearly 32-year tenure at DLR, he has been involved in numerous Westside projects, including the high school vocal music room addition and auditorium model and the Westside Middle School fine arts addition. Among other volunteer roles, he is a founding member of the Westside Warrior Basketball Association and has served the past six years as chairman of the Westside Community Schools Caucus Committee. He and his wife, 1970 graduate Valerie Jernstrom West, have three sons who have graduated from Westside.
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