Purple Star Schools

Wyoming Department of Education > Superintendent's Update > Purple Star Schools

Dear Superintendents,

Knowledge has to do with the facts while wisdom has to do with the truth. In a world that has convinced so many there is only your truth and my truth – not the truth – wisdom often gets boxed out and short-changed. But historically, it was a major part of the educational process. The reason was because the ancients were convinced and convicted that knowledge tends to puff people up, while wisdom has the opposite effect.To pursue one without the other, then, has a major downside. To pursue both is to not only inform the mind (via facts & data) but also deepen it (via understanding & discernment). The latter of course is the key to weakening those deceptive student “mind blinds” while strengthening an expansive student vision.

Vision & Focus

Because just like people (just like our students), mind blinds come in all shapes and sizes: mental, emotional, psychological, spiritual, social, cultural, political and philosophical – so many varieties and a plethora of examples.

Moreover, no age group is immune.  You have childhood mind blinds (“If I’m naughty, my parents won’t love me …” or “It was my fault my parents divorced.”), adolescent mind blinds (“My identity is tied to my clothes, my popularity, my looks, my grades, my feelings …”), and adult mind blinds  (“I must make lots of money or I’m not successful!”).

Mind blinds are the lies we have come to believe as true, whether passed down by family, society, toxic brands of religion or misguided models of education.  They are as seductive as they are pervasive; though a trap, they appear to be the door to freedom.

The good news is, while a liberal arts education is not humanity’s ultimate savior, it can play an enormously powerful role in helping our students evaluate and then break free from these formidable mental strongholds – a process that begins at home with wise parents and at school with conscientious teachers.  The link between both of course is the literacy legacy, beginning first and foremost with the linguistic layer, and then continuing with all aspects of both cultural and financial literacy as well.

Primary Priority

Regarding that first layer, as the specter of a structured linguistic literacy movement in this nation continues to rise, may it serve to fortify our own commitment to literacy excellence as the foundation of everything we do in our schools.

In that vein, crystal clear clarity will be championed through the three core pieces of a stellar literacy paradigm: (1) training literacy teachers in the most effective model, (2) teaching literacy in the most effective way, and (3) testing student literacy with the most effective assessments.  Accordingly, our resolve for a structured literacy model will grow exponentially and stand existentially as Wyoming’s primary educational priority.

Wyoming Teacher Apprenticeship

This week, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) highlighted the WTA in its national update. The CCSSO is the organization of officials leading departments of education nationwide.

Earlier this week the WTA also received accolades from the U.S. Department of Labor. This is the feedback received by Michael Broad, US DOL Office of Apprenticeship in Cheyenne:

“I was contacted by Mike Qualter, Deputy Administrator with the Office of Apprenticeship, who commented on the “awesome” program! This is the first time I have received comments on a great program from anyone in D.C.”

“I was also contacted by the Colorado State Director, asking questions regarding the program. She thought this was the best K-12 Registered Apprenticeship written. She will take the information to her interested school districts.”


In the Spotlight

With more than 1.1 million military-connected students attending schools, issues of school transition are a high priority for their families. The Wyoming Purple Star School Program recognizes the efforts of Wyoming K-12 schools that are committed and supportive of military students and families as they transition to their new homes and schools. The program was designed to help with the challenges of high mobility by setting standards of commitment for the school’s award of the military-friendly Purple Star designation. All Wyoming public and private schools are eligible to apply for the Purple Star School Award.

In that spirit, we would like to congratulate and recognize Cheyenne’s Freedom Elementary and McCormick Junior High School (Laramie County School District #1) for being the first two Wyoming Schools to be awarded with the Purple Star Award – putting both schools – and Laramie #1 – ‘In the Spotlight.’

(Additional information about the Wyoming Purple Star Program, and school application, can be found here.)

Mark Your Calendars

Wyoming Digital Learning Plan Listening Sessions Set

We are seeking your feedback with the help of Marzano Research on the Wyoming Digital Learning Plan. We are going on a listening tour so you can have your thoughts heard. Your first opportunity will be from 4:50-5:30 p.m. on November 14 in Rock Springs at Sweetwater #1’s Central Administration Boardroom, 3550 Foothill Blvd. in Rock Springs, then other locations across the state.


Can’t make one of these dates? No worries! We are having a virtual session via Zoom from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on November 10, 2022; register here. After registering, participants will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

You can find out more on the WDE’s DLP website.

But wait, there’s more…


CodeHS is partnering with the WDE to host free, in-depth professional development cohorts to prepare Wyoming K-12 teachers to take the Praxis Computer Science Exam. The course is delivered within a 14-week cohort model where teachers work through the course at the same pace on the CodeHS platform. Teachers are provided:

  • 1:1 Support
  • Live Lessons
  • Exam Prep
  • Networking Opportunities

After completing the course, teachers will also receive a $200 stipend.

Upcoming Wyoming Praxis Prep Courses: February 2-May 18 on Thursdays starting at 4 p.m.

To be eligible to register, you should be a Wyoming K-12 public school teacher preparing to add a computer science endorsement to your teaching license. Learn more about the technical requirements here and register here.

Monday memos: