All posts by Kari Eakins

Support Needed for Summer Food Service Program

CHEYENNE – In an effort to head off hunger and poor nutrition across the state, the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) seeks sponsors for the Summer Food Service Program. This is a federally funded program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that provides nutritious meals and snacks to children in low-income areas during the summer months.

While sponsors are needed across the state, Powell and Sheridan are in need of additional sponsors.

Sponsors may include public and private nonprofit schools; local and municipal sites; houses of worship; county, tribal and state government entities; private nonprofit organizations; public and private nonprofit camps; and public and private nonprofit universities or colleges.

Summer food program sites must either be in the attendance area of a school where 50 percent or more of students are eligible for free and reduced-price meals, or within the boundaries of a U.S. Census block where at least 50 percent of children are eligible for free and reduced-price meals at school. Once those criteria are met, the site is open to all area children under age 18. The WDE may assist sponsors in obtaining information about possible sites.

Last year, Wyoming summer food service program sites provided 296,071 meals and snacks, which is nearly 60,000 additional meals over the previous summer. Sponsors are reimbursed a set amount for each meal served. More information is available on the WDE website.

The USDA is an equal opportunity provider.

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Media Contact:
Michelle Panos, Communications Director
michelle.panos1@wyo.gov
307-777-2053

2019 Inauguration

Dear Superintendents,

My week as Wyoming’s elected State Superintendent began early Monday morning with a memorable swearing-in ceremony in the rotunda of our Capitol. The entire week has been high energy–we celebrated new beginnings and got to work. One highlight was hearing from teachers across the state who streamed the public swearing-in event or Governor Gordon’s first State-of-the-State address. The teachers shared how they used the opportunity to teach students about the role of the State Superintendent and the three branches of government. The streamed events are  available at  https://governor.wyo.gov/.

During his State-of-the-State address, Governor Gordon recognized Principal Terry Quinn from Gillette for his leadership in thwarting a potential school shooting. He also spoke about education funding, student safety, the power of good teachers, and more.

As the Wyoming Legislature becomes steeped in its business, it’s important to remember the voice that we have as citizens and professionals. If you or any student groups from your community are visiting Cheyenne, please take an opportunity to talk to your legislator and, if you desire, be recognized by the chambers. My staff and I would love to greet you when you visit Cheyenne–I especially love to visit a bit with students. If we can assist with coordination, please contact Rita or Penny at (307)777-7675. Information about the legislature can also be found at https://wyoleg.gov/.

We saw the power of citizen voices already this session with the Hathaway expansion bill, Senate File 43 (SF43). The bill adds the option of taking sequenced career and technical education  courses as part of the success curriculum. The aim is to expand scholarship eligibility for students who participate in rigorous career pathways in high school. Teacher and education leaders spoke in favor of the bill during public testimony. Spokespeople from across Wyoming business and industry (trucking, agriculture, technology, mining, and more) also spoke in favor of the legislation. It was a remarkable demonstration of citizen engagement! I sincerely hope you and students in your districts will take many opportunities to observe and participate in the process.

State Superintendent Jillian Balow with Principal Quinn at the Jonah Building before the State-of-the-State.
Principal Terry Quinn was recognized by Governor Gordon for his leadership in school safety
A group of teachers sit around a table observing an experiment with a marshmallow on pencils taped together.
Teacher Training “Engaging ELs in Science” in Green River
State Superintendent Jillian Balow holds up her right hand with her left hand on a bible held by her husband to take the Oath of Office from the Chief Justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court during the Swearing-In Ceremony at the Cheyenne Civic Center.
The swearing-in of statewide elected officials took place January 7

Memos to be released on Monday, January 14, 2019:

Jillian

New State Report Card Offers Information on Wyoming Schools

CHEYENNE – A new tool for parents, educators, and others to access information about Wyoming schools and districts is now available at wyomingmeasuresup.com. The Wyoming Department of Education created the user-friendly website to house its State Report Card, a requirement of the federally mandated Every Student Succeeds Act.

“Transparency and public engagement are two of the main tenets of the Every Student Succeeds Act,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “Our state report card gives everyone the ability to easily find information on their school and see how it compares to other schools in their district and across the state.”

Visitors to the new report card can view information from the 2017-18 school year at the state, district, and school level. Sections include school performance, assessments, enrollment, graduation, teachers, and more.

The State Report Card is an ongoing, annual requirement of the Every Student Succeeds Act, and will be updated and improved every year.

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Media Contact:
Kari Eakins, Communications Director
kari.eakins@wyo.gov
307-777-2053

Wyoming K-12 Enrollment Adds 53 Students

CHEYENNE – Fall K-12 enrollment data for Wyoming public schools for the 2018-19 school year is available online. Fall enrollment rose from 92,976 in 2017-18 to 93,029 students this year.

“As our state is focused on economic diversity, it’s encouraging to see a slight increase in school enrollment,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “Wyoming has a quality education system and it is a factor families certainly consider when moving to or staying in Wyoming.”

Sheridan County School District #1 gained the most students with 88, followed by Laramie County School District #1 with 81, and Natrona County School District #1 with 64. The biggest drop in enrollment occurred in Sweetwater County School District #1 with 101 fewer students.

The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) has prepared the following reports that break down the enrollment statistics:

This data was gathered from all school districts throughout the state in a snapshot performed on October 1, 2018.

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Media Contact:
Kari Eakins, Communications Director
kari.eakins@wyo.gov
307-777-2053

Wyoming Delegates Chosen for U.S. Senate Youth Program for 2019

CHEYENNE – Easton Countryman, a junior at Kemmerer Junior/Senior High School, and Toby Arment, a senior at Rawlins High School, will serve as Wyoming’s 2019 delegates for the U.S. Senate Youth Program (USSYP). Delegates receive an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C. for an comprehensive educational experience, as well as a $10,000 scholarship from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

“The application process for this program is rigorous, and Easton and Toby excelled in every category,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “Besides being excellent students, they are excellent citizens, and both have given back to their communities in so many ways. I am pleased that Easton and Toby will represent Wyoming as they meet with our nation’s leaders and get a real, hands-on experience in leadership through service.”

Countryman has been on the Kemmerer Junior/Senior High School gold honor roll each semester and has been recognized by the Kemmerer Lions Club for outstanding academic achievement in several areas. He is the president of his class, and participates in in speech and debate, 4-H, and golf. His community outreach includes volunteering for blood drives, highway cleanups, and park renovations. Countryman also helped start a youth organization called Interact, which he currently serves as vice president.

Arment serves as student body treasurer and also participates in the Rawlins chapter of the National Honor Society, band, and speech and debate; Arment captained the Rawlins High School speech and debate team his junior and senior year, and is the recipient of the Speech and Debate Academic All American Award: a recognition that goes to fewer than one half of 1 percent of all student speech and debate members each year. Arment has a keen interest in politics, and has volunteered to moderate political forums for city, county, and state races. He also has served the Carbon County Clerk as a poll judge.

The USSYP was established by the US Senate in 1962, and provides an educational experience for students interested in public service careers.Delegates will hear major policy addresses by senators, cabinet members, officials of the Departments of State and Defense and other federal agencies, and will participate in a meeting with a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and President Donald Trump. Each session includes an in-depth question and answer period. The 57th Annual USSYP Washington Week will be held March 2-9, 2019.

The USSYP provides students with an in-depth view of the Senate and the federal government, as well as a deeper understanding of the relationships between the Legislative, Judicial, and Executive Branches. Two students are chosen from each state, along with two from the District of Columbia, and two from the Department of Defense Dependents Schools network.

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Media Contact:
Kari Eakins, Communications Director
kari.eakins@wyo.gov
307-777-2053

Wreaths Across America

Dear Superintendents,

Earlier this week I participated in Cheyenne’s Wreaths Across America ceremony. The event was particularly emotional for me as my daughter, a soldier, prepares to deploy to the Middle East. The purpose of Wreaths Across America is three-fold: Remember, Honor, and Teach. Remember our fallen warriors and their families. Honor our men and women who serve or have served. Teach the next generation about the price of our freedom. According to the National Assessment for Education Progress (NAEP) only 23% of 8th graders are proficient in Social Studies. Wyoming citizens, including educators, frequently share their concerns about how we prepare students for civic engagement as adults. One way I hope to help in the coming months is to livestream more events like Wreaths Across America so students can join from the classroom.

Preparation for civic life was the primary purpose for establishing public schools in the United States. Students who receive effective social studies instruction are:

  • More likely to vote and discuss politics at home.
  • Four times more likely to volunteer and work on community issues.
  • More confident in their ability to speak publicly and communicate with their elected representatives.

I recently ran across this related resource from the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) that is worthy of sharing with you.

*The inaugural event for Wyoming’s statewide elected officials will be streamed on January 7. Governor Gordon’s State-of-the-State address will be streamed on January 9. Details are forthcoming.

State Superintendent Jillian Balow stands beside a wreath with Wyoming Adjutant General Luke Reiner during a ceremony in Cheyenne.
photo courtesy of Wyoming Military Department
A mix of elementary and middle school students hold their Hour of Code completion certificates and raise their hands in excitement with State Superintendent Jillian Balow, and staff from Microsoft and the Array School of Technology and Design. They are all standing in from of a Microsoft banner.
Microsoft, BEAST Foundation, ARRAY School of Technology, & WDE team up to code after school
WDE staff sit at tables in a filled conference room for the all-staff meeting while a WDE employee leads a flash mob by waving a red and green ribbon wand in the air.
WDE’s Liz Gilbert was the mastermind of the 12 Days of Christmas flashmob at our semi-annual all-staff meeting

Memos to be released on Monday, December 17:

Jillian

George H.W. Bush

“I do not mistrust the future. I do not fear what is ahead. For our problems are large, but our heart is larger. Our challenges are great, but our will is greater.

-George H.W. Bush

A Solution Tree employee lectures to a classroom of teachers.
Statewide PLC work continues across Wyoming this week with Solution Tree
A classroom full of elementary students sit at computers playing games that teach coding.
Congratulations on another successful weeklong immersion into Computer Science. Students in Pinedale had a coding and dance party. In Cheyenne, the Array School of Technology taught students at Prairie Wind Elementary.
State Superintendent Jillian Balow sit on the dais for a State Loan and Investment Board meeting with the Secretary of State, Governor, and State Treasurer.
The Wyoming State Loan and Investment Board met for the last time with Governor Mead as Chair. Governor-Elect Gordon takes over as Chair in January.

There are no memos this week.

Jillian

State Report Card Feedback Survey

Report Card Feedback
1 being very easy and 10 being very hard.
1 being very easy and 10 being very hard.

School Safety

Dear Superintendents,

School safety is a priority topic in every community, state, and in our nation. It is approached with an appropriate sense of urgency. At the community level, the vehicle for school safety discussions is often the school board. However, school safety cannot be the singular responsibility of the school board. Discussions about policies and practices should always include school resource officers and other law enforcement, mental health professionals, parents, educators, students, and other community members. Here are some topics for stakeholder discussion:

  • Should a community task force be convened?
  • What roles do various stakeholders play in ensuring the safety of students?
  • Have current safety plans and policies been analyzed?
  • Are emergency drills adequate?
  • When is the last time a school safety assessment or audit was conducted?
  • What resources exist to help us set and reach goals that help ensure student safety?

As I discuss this important issue across our state, I always describe how school and student safety encompasses prevention, preparedness, crisis response, student well-being, responsibility, and the need for ongoing and coordinated dialogue.

As we have these critical conversations I’ll note that in some instances current state statute is out of sync with best practice. I was pleased to see the Joint Education Committee sponsor legislation earlier this week that begins the work of setting a stronger state framework for school safety. I look forward to continuing to work with legislators on the bill with the understanding that every aspect of school safety must be carefully weighed at the local level.

WDE Hathaway consultant, Bradley Barker, speaks to the Leadership Cheyenne class in a classroom at Laramie County Community College, with graphs projected on screens behind him.
WDE teammate Bradley Barker makes a presentation about the Hathaway Scholarship Program to Leadership Cheyenne Wednesday.
The WDE math and science standards consultants stand on either side of a banner with reads, "Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching."
WDE teammates Brian Cole and Sharla Dowding traveled to Washington, DC, recently to share strategies in promoting excellence in STEM education in Wyoming.

Memos to be released on Monday, December 3:

Jillian

Thanksgiving

Dear Superintendents,

I hope you were all able to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday and surround yourself with loved ones.

Three memos will be released this afternoon:

Jillian