As we continue the transition to a new administration, we have been conducting a series of orientation meetings with our new Superintendent-Elect, Megan Degenfelder, related to the duties and responsibilities of the office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and all things WDE.
We remain committed to a smooth transition, as well as Superintendent Degenfelder’s success for the ultimate good of the department and our Wyoming school districts. Feel free to reach out to Megan and offer her a warm welcome, as she prepares to assume the role of this very important and difficult position.
Vision & Focus
Vision is best cultivated and sustained in a contextual framework, and the vision of American education, with deep historical roots in the arts and sciences, boasts not only an impressive intellectual legacy but also an enduring educational model. Though human nature will always want to reinvent the wheel, only short memories propel us to actually do so. Because, indisputably, the arts and the sciences of the Western education tradition are the two rails that have kept the train on the track, and for good reason.
While a contemporary familiarity with both rails typically involves little more than the Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science degrees that we may have earned in college, a look behind the curtain really does provide the context and inspiration for an incredibly visionary academic legacy.
When most of us nowadays hear the word “art,” we think of a painting or sculpture, with brush or chisel nearby. But the backdrop of history gives us a more expansive definition. Since art comes from the Latin word ars, the arts were closer to what we would now call a skill or craft. So it was not surprising to hear about how soldiers were learning the art of war or doctors the art of healing. An art, then, was a craft that you honed, an ability you developed or a skill you mastered.
In like manner, the term “science” is now linked to what we know as the natural sciences (biology, chemistry, physics). But the Latin root word again sheds light: Scire means “to know or understand” and scientia means knowledge. So science was simply an organized body of knowledge. In that context, history and literature were as much a science as astronomy was.
This distinction was, and is, enormously significant, and in terms of vision and focus, it gave our Western model of education a formidable substance and balance that can’t be beat to this day.
Partnering with Taiwan
A recent trip to Taiwan on behalf of the WDE yielded not only a consequential signing ceremony for a Memorandum of Understanding that sealed the deal between Taiwan and Wyoming regarding a robust future Teacher/Student Exchange, but also an amazing look behind-the-scenes at the educational, cultural and geopolitical dynamics of a very impressive country and people.
Determined to make English the primary language for their students and their future, the Taiwanese educational leadership is extremely focused, motivated and excited about their schools forming partnerships with our Wyoming schools. The stage is set, therefore, for some wonderful student and teacher exchanges for both parties that will, no doubt, enrich the school systems and lives of both peoples.
In the Spotlight
Jessica Kavitz’s young students rarely sit still — and that’s by design. Kavitz, who teaches kindergarten at Meadowlark Elementary in Buffalo, knows that movement engages students’ brains and helps them process and retain information. She borrows basketballs and other sports equipment from the school gym to coordinate with books the class is reading and encourages students to hop, leap, crawl and do push-ups as they move through learning stations. Interspersing physical activities like cup-stacking and agility ladders with reading, writing and math tasks helps Kavitz “wake up” her young learners’ brains as they absorb and master new skills. Kavitz takes a project-based approach that includes trips to the park and other local attractions, often on foot.
For all of her amazing work, Jessica was chosen as this year’s Wyoming recipient of the Milken Educator Award, which comes with a $25,000 cash prize. Kavitz is among up to 40 elementary educators across the nation who will receive the Milken Educator Award during the 2022-23 school year, and the first recipient from Johnson County School District #1 in the history of the award. For that, Jessica Kavitz is ‘In the Spotlight’ this week.
Read more here.
Mark Your Calendars
Join the WDE for the second virtual session in its Wellness Speaker Series, with presenter Shaundalyn Elliott discussing “Self-Care for Educators” from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on December 7, 2022. This two-hour interactive presentation will highlight practical solutions to cope with stressors that surface throughout the school day, as well as outside of the classroom. Since this session will be interactive, participants should bring a pen/pencil and paper for notes. Register here.
- 2022-132-Chapter 3 Public Comment: Rules of Practice & Procedure
- 2022-133 2022-National ESEA Distinguished Schools Program