Vision and Focus

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

Dear Superintendents,

With only a couple of Updates left to go before this administration bows out and the new administration assumes the reins, a re-cap of some of the initiative priorities pursued over the past year may be helpful. The vision and focus of each not only dovetail, but will hopefully be sustained by Wyoming’s overall educational vision.

Vision & Focus

The Wyoming Teacher’s Apprenticeship – Dubbed the “Cadillac of Teacher Apprenticeship programs,” Dr. Laurel Ballard (WDE), Brendan O’Connor (PTSB) and their team can never get enough credit for the feat they pulled off in getting this initiative launched in response to the teacher shortage crisis. As we continue to pilot this in three districts throughout the balance of this school year (Teton County #1, Fremont County #24 and Laramie County #1), working through some of the funding challenges, we are very optimistic the WTA is poised to move forward and flourish in our schools.

Literacy Efforts – Accomplished early readers is what we want, and structured literacy through the phonetic approach is how we get there. To that end, the wind that spreads the fire brings us a number of promising programs that will undoubtedly improve early  literacy skills across the state. For example, a number of districts have expressed interest in leveraging an intervention program endorsed by Dr. William Bennett (a man not given to endorsements). The WDE continues to work with local school districts to ensure that our children acquire the literacy skills they need to be successful and engaged Americans.

The Taiwanese Student & Teacher Exchange – The official signing of the Memorandum of Understanding recently in Taipei, Taiwan, combined with the emerging sistership of two of our Wyoming schools (Black Butte High School and Campbell County High School) with two Taiwanese schools, paves the path to a rich educational and cultural exchange between the teachers and students of Wyoming and Taiwan. Moreover, with the WDE’s Chief Policy Officer Wanda Maloney as the point person, the sky will be the limit regarding this budding and exciting new partnership.

The Tourism-Hospitality Project – Because tourism/hospitality is the second biggest industry in Wyoming, a well-built bridge from our schools to the training and careers it can provide is absolutely critical. Although still in the seminal discussion stages, with WDE CTE Supervisor Dr. Michelle Aldrich at the helm, along with WDE Communications Director Linda Finnerty’s ever-guiding hand and Executive Director of the Wyoming Hospitality and Travel Coalition Chris Brown’s inspiring vision, the commitment remains very high in terms of long-term continuance and sustainability once this effort gets fully launched.

In the Spotlight

Speaking of Linda Finnerty, since day one, Linda has thoughtfully and candidly advocated for the best interests of the agency. She has taken leadership roles in numerous initiatives designed to improve outcomes for teachers, students and parents. She has built and maintained positive professional relationships within the WDE, as well as with external stakeholders including legislators and economic development groups. Linda is creative, articulate and she has a passion for Wyoming and the WDE!

Linda has been particularly instrumental throughout the transitions. Last winter, when Superintendent Jillian Balow and Chief of Staff Dicky Shanor left for Virginia, Linda rolled up her sleeves and helped the agency stay focused. As Deputy Superintendent Chad Auer and I assumed our roles in February, Linda helped us get off the ground. Now, as the WDE undergoes yet another transition, Linda is stepping up to ensure the process is successful and honorable.

Linda, you are ‘In the Spotlight’ for everything that you have done for our state and for the WDE!

Mark Your Calendars

The Nomination Drive for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (#PAEMST) is happening! Do you know a 7–12th grade STEM teacher in Wyoming whose impact goes beyond the classroom? Help us celebrate the future of STEM education by nominating a teacher today. Read more here.

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