Kindness Wyoming

Dear Superintendents,

In a couple of weeks our students will be focused on Valentine’s Day–cards, sweet nothings, secret admirers–all the stuff that turns my 6th grade son’s stomach. In 2017, students across the state celebrated a different type of love during Valentine’s week through Kindness Wyoming. It was wildly successful because of the efforts of teachers and students. The common celebration went like this:

  • Schools set goals to commit random acts of kindness-RAKs (307 was a popular number).
  • Teachers and students agreed on RAK ground rules–what constitutes a RAK? How will they be tracked? (sticky notes on a prominent school wall was common)
  • Students commenced doing nice things for one another.
  • Last year RAKs in the school led to RAKs in the community– cards for veterans, visits to assisted living homes, and so much more.
  • WDE, local news, and community members spotlighted Kindness Wyoming in schools.
  • Schools celebrated reaching goals which was secondary to the positive energy created by the week.

Again this year, I encourage all schools in Wyoming to celebrate kindness instead of romance on Valentine’s Day and throughout Kindness Wyoming week, February 11-17.

Last week, I sent a memo that warrants a repeat performance. Please pass this along to teachers and principals. Don’t forget to invite your local media to events during the week. The WDE would love your photos and RAKs to share on social media.

Pink, red, and purple heart-shaped sticky notes are posted on a school wall in a shape that reads "307". Each of the notes has had descriptions of random acts of kindness written on them.
Kindness Wyoming 2017-RAKs documented on a school wall

Accountability Across the Nation

As more state ESSA plans are approved we are beginning to see how others have established accountability systems post AYP and NCLB. Recently, the Education Commission of the States (ECS) released this report: 50-State Comparison: States’ School Accountability SystemsThe report provides an overview of state accountability systems and the changes states are making as a result of ESSA. I’ll reaffirm that Wyoming had a solid foundation from which to build and our accountability system is stronger as a result of aligning it to ESSA requirements.

Economic Development and Diversity

This week the ENDOW executive council met and further solidified their preliminary recommendations, including education. Governor Mead signed two executive orders today to spur the work ahead. One recognizes Wyoming’s tech industry and the other sets ambitious goals for post-secondary education and training.  Here is a link to the executive order with a specific call to action for K12 and higher ed:

The Wyoming Department of Education, the Wyoming Community College Commission, Wyoming’s seven community colleges, and the University of Wyoming will collaborate on a plan necessary to achieve Wyoming’s educational attainment goal, implement strategies and programs necessary to fulfill the goal, and provide annual progress reports. Wyoming’s plan should meet the need of the State’s businesses and be aligned with priority economic sectors identified by the ENDOW Executive Council in its 20-year comprehensive economic diversification strategy as approved by the Governor. 

State Superintendent Jillian Balow stands with Governor Matt Mead and other education stakeholders following the signing of his executive order.
Governor Mead signs an Executive Order calling for K12-higher ed collaboration on vision and strategy for pos-secondary attainment

There are no memos this week

Jillian