Westside Community Schools Announces Dr. Jay Dostal as Principal

Westside+Community+Schools+announced+Friday%2C+Jan+21+that+Dr.+Jay+Dostal%2C+currently+Principal+at+Fayetteville+High+School+in+Fayetteville%2C+Arkansas%2C+has+accepted+the+position+of+Principal+at+Westside+High+School.

Tanatswa Chivero

Westside Community Schools announced Friday, Jan 21 that Dr. Jay Dostal, currently Principal at Fayetteville High School in Fayetteville, Arkansas, has accepted the position of Principal at Westside High School.

Westside Community Schools announced Friday, Jan 21 that Dr. Jay Dostal, currently Principal at Fayetteville High School in Fayetteville, Arkansas, has accepted the position of Principal at Westside High School.

Dostal has been named Principal of the Year in both Arkansas and Nebraska, in 2016 and 2021, respectively. 

Dr. Jay Dostal has accepted the Westside High School Principal position for the 2022-23 school year.

“While I am just ecstatic about being able to come home to Westside and be back in the community where I grew up, I’m also really sad because I’m going to leave some tremendous people here in the community at Fayetteville,” Dostal said. “It’s bittersweet, I’m just trying to get a handle on my emotions right now, but ultimately I’m just really excited about coming home. I’m a couple hours into this whole announcement thing, so I’m kind of on cloud nine right now.” 

Dostal has quite a few connections to Westside, as a 1996 Westside graduate. He attended Sunset Hills Elementary as well as Westside Middle School. His sisters, Business and Technology instructor Kristeen Shabram and Excellence in Youth Coordinator Lynn Spady, are also a part of the district. 

Dostal said that he became inspired to teach when he noticed the positive relationships his parents, who were both instructors in Omaha Public Schools, were making with students. 

“I knew from an early age with both my parents being teachers, that I was more than likely going to be in education,” Dostal said. “I just saw the relationships that they were able to build with their students. At the time, I thought it was kind of cheesy because [they were adults] who [were] trying to befriend kids but then as I grew older and I saw the impact that they had on their own kids and the connections they had made. It really just inspired me to say ‘you know what, they have an amazing life and they’re making a difference in the lives of others and I want to do something similar.’”

I’m just really excited about coming home. I’m a couple hours into this whole announcement thing, so I’m kind of on cloud nine right now.”

— Dr. Jay Dostal

Dostal said that one of the most unique things about Westside High School is modular scheduling, which he got to experience during his time as a student. 

“My dissertation work is on bell scheduling models for school… that’s where my passion is,” Dostal said. “The modular scheduling at Westside really helped me develop my time management skills and study skills in my high school career, and I honestly think that it is one of the main reasons why I’m as organized as I am today, because I was forced into the habit of making use of my time appropriately during open mods and working in IMCs.”

Dostal said that during his panel interviews with teacher and student committees, he felt the same sense of connection he had felt when he was a student in Westside Community Schools. 

“I felt really good when I was talking with the 21 teachers on the committee and the 11 students, I just felt a connection there and I knew, when I left those rooms, that Westside is a special place because of the people,” Dostal said. “It just made me feel really good, because it was the same feeling I had when I went through Sunset Hills, and Westside Middle School, and Westside High School. I’ve always felt that Westside is a special place.”

Westside is a special place because of the people.”

— Dr. Jay Dostal

Dostal earned his bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education with endorsements in English and Physical Education in 2001. He also earned a masters and doctorate degree in Educational Administration and Supervision from the University of Nebraska Omaha. 

His first teaching job was at Millard West High School, where he taught both English and Physical Education. He then moved to Millard North High School, where he transitioned into his first assistant principal position. 

Dostal said he had many important experiences at Millard North, and highlighted one that he says he’ll never forget. 

“I [was having] a really rough month and there were some behavior issues from students that weren’t going well,” Dostal said. “I was really struggling from the transition from the classroom where I had really good relationships to having almost a disciplinarian.” 

Dostal recalled when the principal who hired him stopped by his office one Friday after school, walked in and asked how things were going. 

“For the next 15 to 20 minutes I just went off and just unloaded on him about everything that was wrong and why things aren’t working correctly and he just sat there and he listened,” Dostal said. “And, when I finally had given him enough of it, he just got up and he left.”

Dostal was looking for advice from the principal, who had over 35 years of experience. When he left, Dostal was left to process what had occurred. As he sat at his desk wondering what had just happened, the principal once again appeared in his office. 

“He walked in five minutes later and he peeked his head around the door, looked me right in the eye and said ‘always remember, you wanted this job, have a nice weekend’ and then he walked away,” Dostal said. “The reason that’s stuck with me ever since is because whatever a day brings, whether good or bad, it ultimately falls down to a choice that I made to take this job and be a part of this career and I want it and so I’m going to have to deal with the good, the bad, and the ugly and that’s probably the best advice I’ve ever received.”

That first year is really just about connecting with people and listening to them and just understanding where they want Westside to go.”

— Dr. Jay Dostal

Dostal has also worked at Kearney High School, where he had many other experiences. 

“I was 32 years old when I was hired for my first principal job and the average years of teaching experience on [that] staff was 23 years, so I was a really young principal,” Dostal said. “Through that process, that team that we had at Kearney was phenomenal. We applied for the 1-1 [technology program] even though Westside already had one, [and] we started with chromebooks. We built a brand new high school from the ground up, and that was a really cool opportunity.”

During his time at Westside, Dostal played his fair share of sports. He played football and basketball, and was even a member of the Westside High School ping pong team. 

“I picked up my ping pong skills, and I got beat a lot because there were a lot of talented ping pong players in my class, but we had some unbelievable games in the red gym,” Dostal said. “It was definitely fun.”

In his free time, Dr. Dostal says he enjoys being outdoors and being with his family. 

“I’ve got a daughter who is a freshman in college and I’ve got a son who’s a sophomore in high school, and I like engaging with them and getting to know them as the young adult people that they are,” Dostal said. “We have a two-year-old English bulldog named Winston, so I spend a lot of time with him. If I can, I do a lot of reading, I love golfing and I try to walk 3-4 miles a day.”

Upon arrival, Dostal says he wants to use his first year to take in the new community and learn from students and staff.

I’m excited about that because I think that makes everyone better, when they can see diversity and understand the perspectives of other people.”

— Dr. Jay Dostal

 

“I’m actually going to be surveying the staff soon,” Dostal said. “I’m going to ask them three questions about what [we should] start doing at Westside High School, what [we should] stop doing, and what [we should] continue at Westside. I really want to get to know them and hear their voices and get their feelings about the building culture because I think that’s going to help me see where we [should] focus and prioritize our efforts.”

Dostal said that he is excited to meet with various student groups to hear about their experiences, and overall listening to the community as a whole. 

“Find some time to sit down with various student leaders and groups and hear what their experience in school has been and what they feel are things that we should be working on,” Dostal said. “It’s my job to compile all of those things together and really develop a plan. That first year is really just about connecting with people and listening to them and just understanding where they want Westside to go.”

Dostal said that he is excited to come back home and experience a whole new level of diversity that he didn’t have when he was a student in the district.

“First and foremost I’m excited, but the community that I grew up in is very different from the community that is there now,” Dostal said. “I think that’s what is most exciting for me because, when I was in school, Westside was not very diverse. It is very diverse now and I love that about it. That’s one of the reasons that’s why I love Fayetteville [too]. 

If you won’t tell your story and own your own voice, somebody else will do it for you, and they’ll never tell it as well.”

— Dr. Jay Dostal

Dostal explained that his children had the opportunity to live in a community that is highly diverse and believes that experience will make them better people, because they see different people with different experiences

“I think that is what is so exciting about returning to Westside, seeing a community that is different than when I was there,” Dostal said. “I’m excited about that because I think that makes everyone better, when they can see diversity and understand the perspectives of other people.”

Dostal has written and self published his own book, Own Your Epic, that encourages other leaders to tell their own stories and experiences.  

“Those are side projects that I started during the pandemic,” Dostal said. “The whole point behind the Own Your Epic piece was just again amplifying the voices and stories of others.”

In his book, Dostal shares some leadership stories, but also challenges people  to think about their own stories and curate them and cultivate them and tell them. 

I’m excited to really dive into the wonderful traditions of Westside again and reacclimate myself because it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

— Dr. Jay Dostal

“If you won’t tell your story and own your own voice, somebody else will do it for you, and they’ll never tell it as well,” Dostal said. “The whole point of it is to really force people into reflecting on the things that they’ve experienced and collect those so that they can share their voice and their stories. 

Dostal takes great satisfaction in hearing about other people’s experiences because he believes that’s how people connect with one another. 

“We share experiences, [and] we have a much richer dialogue than if we just stayed on the surface level,” Dostal said.

While this past week has been a whirlwind of activity for Dostal, he is looking toward the future with excitement.

“This is my dream job, and I am so excited to get to know students,” Dostal said. “I’m excited to really dive into the wonderful traditions of Westside again and reacclimate myself because it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Dostal will officially begin his tenure as Principal of Westside High School effective July 1, 2022.