To Learn, To Think

Wyoming Department of Education > Superintendent's Update > To Learn, To Think

Dear Superintendents,

As school and community leaders, our responsibilities are great and expectations enormous.  Leadership is not only lonely, as someone observed long ago, but also (at times) overwhelming. When we hit those patches when we’ve had enough, it sometimes helps to circle back and keep our essential role simple: Cast the vision and clarify the focus, reiterate and reinforce our primary priorities, and spotlight those who are getting it done and doing it well.

Oh, there is one more essential element, perhaps the one we ignore the most: taking care of ourselves. I really hope you’re getting the downtime you need, and are having a relaxing and refreshing summer.

Vision & Focus

As a classroom teacher, I would typically conduct the following ritual with my students on the first day of school each year. I would ask them what the purpose of school was: “Tell me, in a nutshell, why do we have schools? … Why do you go to school?”

After a variety of creative (and hilarious) answers, they would eventually say, “To learn! We go to school to learn!”  And I would say to them, “That’s right! (dramatic pause)  And I would write those two words on the board … T-O L-E-A-R-N.  

Then, after another dramatic pause, I’d exclaim, “But that is only half right!” followed by writing two more words on the board: T-O T-H-I-N-K.  

“That’s the other half. Put those two together, and you have the purpose of education:  to learn … to think.  To learn from others, to think for oneself.”

The Primary Priority   

This week, our Wyoming Teacher Apprenticeship Advisory Group had its monthly meeting. It was a spirited and productive discussion, as we tackle the finer details of the initiative. We already have several school districts that have applied for the pilot program for this fall. The three participating districts will be chosen by July 8th, so I’ll share that news in my next update.

In the Spotlight

Congratulations to Cody High School’s Isabelle Radakovich, and Laramie High School’s Keegan Allen Miller, Wyoming’s 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholars! The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as a demonstrated commitment to community service and leadership. Read the media release here.

Mark Your Calendars

In partnership with Marzano Research, the WDE will offer a second opportunity for educators and leaders to come together in a regional session and explore the pandemic effect on achievement. In the session, participants will engage in a facilitated, data-driven, decision-making process with Marzano Research leaders, using rigorously analyzed WY-TOPP/WY-ALT combined data. In the end, participants will understand the effect of the pandemic on achievement in core subject areas and generate initial ideas for what to do about it.  Register here.

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