Rick Varney

Welcome to West Side Early Childhood Center!

Rick Varney, Principal

West Side houses early childhood special education classes and four-year-old preschool classes and is home to approximately 50 students. West Side staff utilizes the Creative Curriculum to enhance cognitive and social-emotional development. We strive to create a student-centered environment where individual needs are addressed, cooperation and teamwork are valued, community partnerships flourish, commitment to excellence prevails, and lifelong learning continues.

We are a PBIS (Positive Behavior and Instruction Supports) School. We teach, model, and practice respectful, responsible, and safe behaviors that embody Viking Pride and character. We also believe that acknowledging and recognizing students when they demonstrate these core values will promote continued positive behavior.

West Side has excellent teachers and support staff committed to using a collaborative approach to provide a safe and respectful learning environment that promotes and embraces growth for all learners. Our staff and students value the wonderful support of our families, the dedication of our volunteers, and the resources provided by our community.¬† We encourage you to speak with your child’s teacher, our office staff, or visit the Parent-Teacher Organization for more information on how you can partner in your children’s learning and growth. We are very proud to be a part of the Decorah Community School District!


Rick Varney is currently in his sixteenth year as a principal at John Cline Elementary School and West Side Early Childhood Center. Before coming to Decorah, Mr. Varney served as a principal for three years in the Central Community School District in Elkader, Iowa. Prior to becoming a principal, he was an elementary teacher in the Lamar Consolidated School District in Richmond, Texas; Bennet Community School District in Bennett, Iowa; and Tipton Community School District in Tipton, Iowa. He currently serves on the School Administrators of Iowa’s Executive Committee and also serves as the state representative for The National Association of Elementary School Principals.

Rick has earned degrees at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, and Western Illinois in Macomb, Illinois. He enjoys working and living in Decorah, where his three children graduated high school. He takes great pride in our community and is thankful for the opportunities he has here!