Vision & Focus

Wyoming Department of Education > Superintendent's Update > Vision & Focus

Dear Superintendents,

We’ll be brief this week, as I am in the middle of the election campaign and you are getting toward the end of your summer (ugh!) and, no doubt, doing all the necessary preparations for the start of a new school year.

In this edition of the Superintendent’s Update, we again include some thoughts on a vision for our students and our schools, an update on the Teacher Apprenticeship Initiative, as well as the latest on the charter school application process. Finally, a piece on how states are addressing persistent teacher shortages with a timely and relevant webinar invitation on the same topic.

Vision & Focus

We’ve been pondering the purpose of education in regard to our students, as well as to our schools. Concerning the former, it is to teach them how to think. Concerning the latter, it is to be an extension of the home, and a bridge to society.

Concerning the former, “Up until about the 1920’s, the emphasis in education was on producing thinkers, not learners. The idea was that if kids could think, they could learn anything for themselves; but if the focus was on ‘learning,’ they would become gullible and passive, believing everything they heard and read.” (Author David Barton)

Concerning the latter, the schoolhouse was supposed to reinforce the home and help strengthen the institution of the family as the cornerstone of civilization. It was also supposed to be a launching pad into society, preparing young people to become informed citizens, involved community members, consequential public servants, teachers of the next generation, committed participants of their faith communities, and great Americans who love their country. Such a vision sustains our focus.

The Primary Priority   

It was a busy week for the Wyoming Teacher Apprenticeship Initiative. Representatives from the three pilot school districts (Laramie #1, Teton #1, and Fremont #24) met with the initiative’s core team to ask questions and collaborate on initial steps and support needed to begin work at the district level. All agreed that although this process will take time to bring certified teachers into their classrooms, it will assist the districts with an additional pathway to support members of their school community to become strong teachers.

This endeavor will ensure that incoming apprentices have ongoing intensive mentor support for three years, while engaged in earning a Bachelor’s degree. An apprentice will receive their teaching license after completing their degree and demonstrating competencies needed to be an effective teacher.

Process Update

The Charter School application will be open through August 15, 2022. Three applications have been received so far:

  • Prairie View Community School, Chugwater.
  • Wyoming Classical Academy Charter School, Casper.
  • Cheyenne Classical Academy Charter School, Cheyenne.

The applications are in the review process with the WDE; the WDE will submit all applications to the State Land Investment Board (SLIB) when deemed complete. SLIB will then hold a public meeting, and do applicant interviews as part of the final approval. For applicants requesting waivers, approval from the State Board of Education will follow.

Mark Your Calendars

How Are States Addressing Persistent Teacher Shortages?

Specific and persistent teacher shortages remain a significant problem facing policymakers throughout the country. Recruiting additional teachers into the field is a common response to shortages. State education leaders also have a number of other policy levers at their disposal they are using to not only recruit but retain high-quality teachers.

In the latest installment of the Partnering for Success webinar series, with support from Teachers of Tomorrow, participants will explore how states are addressing teacher workforce challenges. These challenges include increasing interest in the field to providing ongoing support and opportunities for career advancement. Join the Education Commission of the States for a conversation with Arne Duncan and chief state school officers from Indiana and Nevada. They will share more about their efforts to address teacher shortages along the teacher pipeline. The presentation is set for 11 a.m.-noon MDT on August 10. Register here.

Monday memos:

  • There are no memos this week.