All posts by Jason Harper

SUPERINTENDENT DEGENFELDER TO HOST CURRICULUM TRANSPARENCY EVENT AT CODY HIGH SCHOOL

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) will host a hybrid media event at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, January 23 in the Park County School District #6 Board Meeting Room at the PCSD #6 Central Office. Members of the press and public are invited.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Megan Degenfelder will launch the District Curriculum Transparency page on the WDE website, allowing parents quick access to their district’s curriculum as outlined in the 2023-2027 WDE Strategic Plan.

The public will be able to watch live via the WDE Facebook page. Media partners who wish to attend in-person must email Linda Finnerty at linda.finnerty@wyo.gov to confirm participation. Media partners participating online can register here.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

WDE SEEKS COMMENT ON SBE CHAPTER 1 RULES

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education seeks public comment on the proposed State Board of Education Chapter 1 rules pertaining to Certificate of Completion Requirements. Public comment may be submitted online until 11:59 p.m. on March 8. All public comments will be recorded verbatim, including the submitter’s name and city of residence, and submitted to the Secretary of State’s office as part of the rules promulgation process. See the public comment form to view the Statement of Reasons and the proposed rules.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

WDE HONORS DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. AND BUFFALO SOLDIERS

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) hosted an event on Tuesday, January 16 in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and to celebrate African American contributions to Wyoming through a presentation on Buffalo Soldiers, early 1900’s military units composed of Black men stationed at Fort D.A. Russell, presently F.E.Warren AFB. Attendees included the Mayoral Youth Council, St. Mary’s Catholic School students, and members of the Boys & Girls Club of Cheyenne.

Supported by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Megan Degenfelder, the event was part of a larger week of civic engagement and service by WDE staff to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Staff were encouraged to attend the MLK Banquet on January 14 and participate in the Rally on January 15. Staff will complete the week by reading to kindergarten classrooms in Cheyenne.

“As we continue to prioritize citizenship in K-12 education, it is important that we also model citizenship ourselves at the Department of Education. This week we were proud to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. throughout our community,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Megan Degenfelder.

WDE Chief of Staff Dicky Shanor kicked off Tuesday evening’s event with remarks from Cheyenne Mayor Patrick Collins, and Rev. Catherine Fitzhugh, pastor at Unity Missionary Baptist Church in Cheyenne. Daniek Long, Warren ICBM and Heritage Museum curator, led the presentation on Buffalo Soldiers.

The story of the Buffalo Soldiers in Wyoming and their connection to F.E. Warren A.F.B was the main feature and focused on the history of the unit, showcased some of the regiments’ most prominent members, and highlighted recent African American military stories that bring the legacy of these soldiers into the present day.

An educational trunk provided by the Wyoming State Museum engaged attendees in hands-on learning and enhanced the presentation with artifacts that Buffalo Soldiers would have used including an army uniform, other clothing, bugle, canteen, medals, and other early soldier artifacts.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

WDE SEEKS PUBLIC COMMENT ON PERKINS V WYOMING STATE PLAN

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) is seeking public comment on the proposed Wyoming State Plan for the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). The act provides federal funding for secondary and postsecondary career and technical education in Wyoming. The 2023-24 federal award to Wyoming is $5,859,991. To continue to receive funds, Wyoming must submit a plan for Wyoming Career and Technical Education (CTE) for 2024-28.

Under Superintendent Megan Degenfelder’s WDE Strategic Plan, to support the initiative of Preparing Students For Jobs Through Career & Technical Education, a cabinet of stakeholders from around the state was formed. This cabinet was tasked with reviewing and proposing recommendations for the Wyoming Perkins V State plan. Those recommendations include performance assessment targets for school districts, and community colleges receiving Perkins V funds in order to provide student learners with high quality educational and work-based learning opportunities.

Perkins V public comment is open January 8 through February 8. Informational meetings will be  held virtually on:

Comments can also be submitted online or via mail to:
Mary Billiter
Perkins Program Manager
Wyoming Department of Education
122 W. 25th St. Suite E200 Cheyenne, WY 82002

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

SUPERINTENDENT DEGENFELDER ANNOUNCES STATEWIDE MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES CONNECTION PROGRAM

Cheyenne — Superintendent Degenfelder and the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) announce Care Coordination, a free statewide service connecting Wyoming students, families, and school district staff with mental health care providers both locally and nationally. This resource will create the opportunity for improved mental wellbeing while keeping Wyoming parents in charge. The program also furthers the WDE’s strategic plan initiative to value and support teachers.

“Mental and behavioral health of students was one of the top issues I heard about on the campaign trail, and it was an issue I promised to address. If our students are not physically or mentally well, we cannot expect them to learn,” said Superintendent Megan Degenfelder.

“Parents are the number one decision maker when it comes to their child’s physical and mental health. Our role in education is not to take the place of parents, but rather to connect parents with as many resources and choices as possible so they have all the tools to best meet their child’s mental health needs. Care Coordination does exactly that. Parents can get help for their child quickly, effectively and on their own terms.”

Not only does Care Coordination connect individuals with provider options, but it does so more efficiently and quickly. On average it takes an individual making 60 calls over four to five weeks to be matched with a mental health provider. With Care Coordination, individuals in need are typically matched with providers in under a week. This confidential and anonymous service will help those seeking care overcome the many barriers they experience such as language, long wait times, and insurance complexities.

There are currently 24 school districts participating in the Care Coordination program statewide.The WDE has contracted with Care Solace, a trusted national provider to deliver these mental health care coordination services.

“The services of Care Solace have proven invaluable. The assistance in connecting families with vital mental health resources has demonstrably reduced stress for both our caring staff and families facing crisis,” said Craig Barringer, Superintendent at Sweetwater County School District #2.

For more information about Care Coordination, visit https://edu.wyoming.gov/for-district-leadership/health-safety/ 

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

SUPERINTENDENT DEGENFELDER ANNOUNCES PLAN FOR DIGITAL LEARNING INNOVATION

Cheyenne — The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) has released the 2023-28 Wyoming Digital Learning Plan to ensure that Wyoming’s students have equitable access to opportunities at the forefront of digital learning that allow them to attain technological skills required by the workforce, postsecondary education, or military through student-centered strategies that respond to local guidance and needs. View a summary of the plan here.

“I am proud of the work to update the digital learning plan as it not only better prepares students for jobs through new increased opportunities to master the use of industry and workplace technology, but also develops digital citizenship and creates greater efficiencies and more streamlined support to our teachers,” said Megan Degenfelder, State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The plan enhances student-centered learning by increasing technology and data use in the classroom, and supports educators to effectively implement these innovative resources into their practice. Student-centered learning will allow Wyoming students, including those with disabilities and English language learners, to have more control and responsibility in their education by actively engaging learning processes that best suit their needs and abilities. This also includes nurturing further collaboration between schools and community and industry partners to increase project and work-based learning opportunities.

Digital citizenship underscores the plan to ensure students possess skills to use digital tools, such as the internet, social media, and artificial intelligence, in a safe, respectful, and responsible manner. Data privacy and security is also prioritized to model best practices and assure that data is maintained in a safe and lawful manner.

Additionally, the plan offers strategies for addressing the plan’s themes at the state, postsecondary, district, and school levels. The recommendations can help each segment understand their role and guide decisions about where to focus efforts to best support students and respond to community needs.

Development of the plan was directed by the Digital Learning Plan Advisory Panel, a group of individuals with expertise from each segment of Wyoming’s education system; and was guided by stakeholder input via listening sessions, surveys, and focus groups. The WDE will work with the panel and additional partners to implement the state strategies identified in the plan as well as work with districts and schools to support their efforts to implement plans.

The plan aligns with Degenfelder’s 2023-27 WDE Strategic Plan, Governor Mark Gordon’s Reimagining and Innovating Delivery of Education (RIDE) initiative, and the Wyoming State Board of Education Profile of a Graduate initiative; and provides flexible strategies to incorporate technology and data into instruction, improve technology infrastructure, and support educator training at all levels of Wyoming’s education system.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

SUPERINTENDENT DEGENFELDER JOINS EFFORT TO ENHANCE COLLABORATION BETWEEN STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENTS AND THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Cheyenne — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Megan Degenfelder has signed on to a letter to the Department of Defense (DOD) from the Kansas Commissioner of Education, Randall D. Watson, and 29 additional state education leaders, requesting a new information sharing protocol for graduates who pursue a military career. View the letter here.

The letter supports a new partnership to better understand military service as a postsecondary option through data sharing between states and the DOD. The data would allow state leaders to better understand how the military can be a successful career option and how to support military career readiness.

The military is a unique and honorable career option but the military branches are experiencing reduced enrollment and oftentimes turning away young Americans who would like to serve because they do not meet academic and physical requirements. Without data to accurately understand which students are serving, in what roles, and for how long, many states do not include military service as an indicator when they evaluate school and student success.

“We simply must do better at preparing our students for military service. Wyoming was a national leader in including military readiness in its school accountability model. But that is just the beginning of our effort to ensure that every student who is interested in serving his or her country is informed and prepared to do so upon graduation” said Superintendent Degenfelder.

This group of state education leaders propose a model data sharing agreement, similar to ones made between the DOD and Department of Labor, to add state-specific enlistment and service date to longitudinal data systems. The start of this work would include the creation of a working group that defines military career readiness, specifies outcomes to measure success, and determines a timeframe within which to measure. The working group would also be charged with developing secure and lawful data protocols and policies.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

SUPERINTENDENT DEGENFELDER AND WDE LAUNCH GUIDANCE FOR ESTABLISHING OR MODIFYING LIBRARY MATERIAL POLICY

Cheyenne — State Superintendent Megan Degenfelder and the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) have released the guidance for Establishing or Modifying Library Material Policy as outlined in the 2023-2027 WDE Strategic Plan.

School districts can utilize this meaningful guidance to evaluate or implement their own policies to best serve their communities, through local school district control. The guide also serves to help parents understand how these policies are created and how they can participate in the process. The guide was created by a statewide stakeholder group, including librarians, teachers, parents, administrators, district and state school board members and business leaders.

“Superintendent Degenfelder’s exemplary leadership has shone brightly in the development of the guidance for Establishing or Modifying Library Material Policy”, said Jay Curtis, Superintendent of Park County School District #1. “Her commitment to transparency and the inclusion of stakeholder voices has fostered an environment where every voice is not only heard but valued, resulting in a document that truly reflects the needs and aspirations of our state. In addition, the guidance document reinforces complete local control over the creation of those policies, which allows for a product that is reflective of local voices and values in our unique communities across Wyoming.”

Degenfelder also shares what she believes are fundamental elements to any library material policy: that sexually explicit material should not be available in K-12 schools, parents having an absolute right to restrict access to any material they find inappropriate for their child, maximum transparency of material and creation of policy, and uniform application to all sexual orientations- not as a tool to discriminate.

“When I campaigned across the state of Wyoming for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, there were few issues that I heard about more from citizens than concerns about inappropriate materials and books in schools,” says Degenfelder. “There is absolutely no room in the classroom for inappropriate materials or influences. We must protect our children and we must protect public education.”

The overarching practices presented in the guidance ensure districts are meaningfully engaged with parents and the community when implementing or updating policy and equipped to draft sound policy. View the policy here.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

SUPERINTENDENT DEGENFELDER TO TESTIFY ON CAPITOL HILL THURSDAY

CHEYENNE – Wyoming State Superintendent Megan Degenfelder has been invited to testify before the United States Congress, House Committee on Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education. The hearing titled “Protecting Kids: Combatting Graphic, Explicit Content in School Libraries” will be held on Thursday, October 19, 2023 at 10:15 a.m. (EST). Testimony can be viewed here.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

SUPERINTENDENT DEGENFELDER CELEBRATES WYOMING’S NATIONAL BLUE RIBBON SCHOOLS

Superintendent Megan Degenfelder and the Wyoming Department of Education congratulate two Wyoming schools named National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education. Sagewood Elementary in Casper, and Southside Elementary in Powell were identified among the 353 schools honored. Both schools were recognized in the Exemplary High Performing Schools category. View the complete list here.

“I am extremely honored to be part of the outstanding community of Sagewood Elementary,” says Principal Anna Lavin. “I am humbled and grateful for this recognition of the incredible achievements of our students and staff. I am amazed by the commitment the staff, students, and parents show each day to each other and our school. This recognition is a great celebration of the work my staff and students do daily.”

The National Blue Ribbon School award recognizes schools for their academic excellence and for closing achievement gaps between students. It affirms and validates the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in striving for, and attaining, exemplary achievement. Around two dozen Wyoming schools have earned the honor in the last decade, some of them multiple times.

“We are humbled to receive the 2023 National Blue Ribbon School award. This award is proof of what our hard-working community of adults at Southside Elementary School do on an everyday basis, to ensure high levels of learning and growth for every student,” says Principal Scott Schiller. “When you combine that hard work with our students’ love for their school and teachers, and then add in the amazing support we receive from our Southside families and the community of Powell, we have an awesome recipe for student success!”

Up to 420 schools may be nominated each year. Nominations for the National Blue Ribbon Schools award come from the top education official in all states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and the Bureau of Indian Education. Private schools are nominated by the Council for American Private Education.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov