Governor Mark Gordon proclaimed May 1-7 as Teacher Appreciation Week, and we were honored here in Cheyenne by the presence of two of our illustrious Wyoming teachers who attended the governor’s proclamation signing at the Capitol. We thanked them for their long-term diligent commitment and we again thank you for the same. Stay encouraged and take care of yourselves – our students and parents need you to stay in the game for the long haul.
Vision & Focus
Leading the nation in education is a multi-splendored thing to be sure, but one of the key guideposts will be identity – knowing who we are and who we are not. Security breeds leadership and leadership breeds security. Wyoming is poised to lead the nation in education because it knows who it is and who it is not.
The same goes for our schools. Over time, like our local communities, our schools develop an identity based on a culture. If healthy (or becoming healthier), it will serve as an anchor for our young people. If it endures, it can serve as an example for our entire nation. That’s the vision.
The Primary Priority
According to the Merrimack College Teacher Survey, teacher job satisfaction has hit an all-time low. Representing more than 1,300 teachers, this representative poll paints a picture of a disillusioned, exhausted workforce.
It is unclear to what extent this “heaviness” is affecting Wyoming teachers, but we know the teacher shortage crisis is real. Therefore, the primary priority for the WDE is the Wyoming Teacher Apprenticeship Initiative based in part on the highly-successful Tennessee model.
Our newly-formed work group (a robust cross-section of all the key stakeholders) had another very productive meeting recently. The excitement builds as we prepare for our meeting with Governor Gordon on May 18, when we present the draft apprenticeship framework. We will keep you posted as things transpire on this front every step of the way.
In the Spotlight
If you recall back in the fall of 2020, the WDE announced that it had been awarded the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant by the United States Department of Education. Year one funding for Wyoming was $8.6 million. With continued eligibility over the following five years, the total could reach $43.3 million. The grant is being used to create a comprehensive state literacy program to advance literacy skills — including pre-literacy skills, reading, and writing — for students from birth through grade 12, including limited-English-proficient students and students with disabilities. As of May 2022, the full amount has been granted through 2025 to the 24 school districts that have applied.
On the Road, In The Field
The past couple weeks have brought several more inspiring school district visits. The first one took us up to beautiful Sundance at Crook County #1, hosted by Superintendent Mark Broderson, while the second one was just around the corner at home here in Cheyenne at Laramie County #1 with Dr. Margaret Crespo.
A third trip ventured up to Campbell County #1 with Deputy Superintendent Kirby Eisenhauer, complemented the same day with a stop at the delightful Youth Emergency Services House in Gillette with Clark Fairbanks and some of his dedicated colleagues. Thursday took us to Natrona County District #1 with Superintendent Mike Jennings and his Associate Superintendent Walt Wilcox, and Friday capped it all off at Johnson County School District #1 with a visit to Superintendent Charles Auzqui and his Buffalo schools.
I wish time and space allowed for some highlights from these visits, but suffice it to say, each one has again yielded an enriched perspective on all the good things going on in our schools as well as an appreciation for how hard our district and school leaders are working to get the job done. While much going on across our nation in education is very concerning, Wyoming schools give me hope.
Mark Your Calendars
The 2022 Summer Technical Assistance Retreat (STAR) Conference will be held virtually from June 21-23, and June 28-29, 2022. The STAR Conference will focus on Grants Management System, Homeless Education, Consolidated Federal Grants, and more. From June 21-23, the sessions will focus on Federal Programs management, and from June 28-29 the annual McKinney-Vento Homeless Education post-conference will be offered.
Registration is open for both conferences. The cost for the STAR Conference is $45. There is no registration fee for the McKinney-Vento post-conference, but registration is required. For detailed information about the conference, keynote speakers, and registration, follow these links: