Leading the Nation

Wyoming Department of Education > Superintendent's Update > Leading the Nation

Dear Superintendents,

Spring has sprung (we hope), and as you lead your schools to the finish line, I hope the change of season recharges your batteries and renews your resolve. At the same time, Spring is a great reminder of the need to get outside and smell the flowers! The work-life balance is a challenge for all of us, and at times seemingly impossible to achieve – but strive for it we must or burn out we will. Take care of yourselves, protect that all-important family time and enjoy the great outdoors of Wyoming!

Vision & Focus

Continuing our thoughts from last week, how is it conceivable that the smallest state in the Union in population could lead that Union in education? Or in the words of one who shares this vision, UW Ellbogen Dean, Dr. Scott Thomas: “Second to none by 2030!”

Are we both dreaming? Maybe, but sometimes it takes an outsider (or two) to share a fresh take on just how unique Wyoming is and how very special the people of Wyoming remain. Our country is losing itself, yet Wyoming as a whole, has still not drunk the Kool-Aid. So for starters, we can lead the nation by not following the direction that much of it is going, and helping our kids resist the cultural abyss that is clawing at them. That will be the essential piece if we are to emerge as leaders on the education front. More next time.

The Primary Priority   

Things are moving at a brisk pace with the teacher apprenticeship initiative. A workgroup has been formed that represents key stakeholders and will have its first meeting next week.

WDE and PTSB team members had a very productive meeting this week with key staff from the Tennessee Department of Education. Working closely with the US Department of Labor, these trailblazers were the first state in the country to sponsor Teacher Occupation Apprenticeship programs. Registered apprenticeship programs will allow for high-quality, industry-driven, work-based learning pathways that provide individuals with hands-on work experience while earning a wage that increases during the progression of the program.

Tennessee has paved the way for other states and are graciously sharing the results of multiple years of work in the form of a Playbook and other key materials and supports. Although the materials will not be available until early May, our team was able to gather significant information that not only confirmed various aspects of our own evolving framework, but will also allow us to keep things moving forward. While we do not intend to simply mirror what Tennessee has done, Wyoming will use these valuable resources to accelerate the process here at home.

In the Spotlight

We would be remiss if we did not “give honor to whom honor is due.”  Our own Dustin Brown and Laura Budd are doing some cutting-edge work with Wyoming Project Aware, so they will be our first WDE staffers to be put in this new Spotlight segment.

Dustin and Laura oversee the WDE efforts to provide behavioral health and substance abuse services within ten of our Wyoming school districts.  As they design theoretical models to maximize student class attendance, they also provide important support to other state agencies working on healthcare.

No surprise then that they are receiving growing recognition for their work:

  • Their Wyoming Project AWARE Referral Pathway and Wyoming NOMS data collection processes are nationally recognized as a Best Practice.
  • Their Wyoming Tier 3 Clinical Intervention Services has been deemed “innovative” by the National Leadership Team.
  • Their Telehealth concept design is considered revolutionary by the CDC.
  • They have been asked to provide presentations to the national or cohort audiences four times in the last year and twice this year currently

Congratulations, Dustin and Laura, you are in the spotlight.

Mark Your Calendars

The Fifth Annual Wyoming English as a Second Language and Dual Language Immersion Conference is April 29-30 in Gillette. The conference will offer a stimulating environment to share participants’ work, network, and learn from one another. Register here for free. View the conference schedule for more information.

Monday Memos