Early this week, I lost a teacher and lifelong friend–JuLan Decker–she was 82. Undoubtedly, family, friends, and students will celebrate her life and contributions in the coming days. Mrs. Decker’s greatest attribute was her kindness–we entered class as her students and left as her friends. There are so many amazing teachers who deserve recognition in their chosen field, in their communities, and in our state. Here are a few ways we are making inroads:
Despite the downturn in state revenue and mandatory cuts at the Wyoming Department of Education, we are growing the Wyoming Teacher of the Year (WTOY) program–though not financially. Historically, the WTOY received a stipend and traveled to Washington, DC for recognition and celebration–that was about it. Over the past two years, I’ve worked to place WTOYs into state leadership and policy positions. They’ve also been great sports whenever I thrust them into the spotlight as ambassadors for their profession.
Amy is participating in Leadership Wyoming, class of 2018, and is on the governing committee for the University of Wyoming Trustees Education Initiative. She has spoken at multiple events sponsored by WDE and others. Amy represented Wyoming teachers during halftime of the 2017 College Football National Championship game in Florida.
Ryan was appointed to the Wyoming State Board of Education. He met with Secretary DeVos and advocated for Title IV-B and STEM in Wyoming schools. He will participate in and be recognized at Cheyenne Frontier Days. More events are TBD for Ryan.
There are countless opportunities for district and state TOYs to be recognized and I intend to see the WTOY program continue to grow. At the national level, the TOY program is also on the move. The Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) sponsors the TOY program and is using the program as a springboard to spotlight the education workforce. Through a major initiative, all states are called upon to to encourage teaching innovation, learn from other professional and leadership sectors, and apply new principles to transform the teaching and educational leadership professions. Wyoming will participate fully in this initiative.
The University of Wyoming is steeped in the work of the Trustees Education Initiative (TEI) for which I serve as a member of the coordinating council. This initiative will use evidence and best practice to move the UW College of Education from above average to preeminent. Here is more information about the progress of the TEI: http://www.uwyo.edu/trust_
Wyoming’s equity in education plan reveals a shortage of special education teachers, especially in rural areas. Because of competitive salaries and an adequate pipeline of teachers, Wyoming has been mostly immune to the extreme teacher shortages other states face. Of course, with impending cuts to Wyoming education, this could change. It’s vital that we continue to uphold the teaching profession as a funding priority and encourage our brightest to pursue it as a career. For example, we are exploring ways to recruit more Native American Wyomingites into the teaching profession. Also, we need to consider leadership opportunities within schools, retention incentives for the best teachers, and more strategies to develop beginning teachers into master teachers. Here is a link to the 2015 Equity Plan: https://edu.wyoming.gov/
Memo to be released on Monday, June 5:
- 2017-077: Impact of ESSA on Teacher Certification Requirements and Assignments
- 2017-077a: Teacher Certification Requirements Under ESSA FAQ