All posts by tgabrukiewicz

The WDE Seeks Public Comment on Amended Chapter 29 Rules Leader and Teacher Evaluations Systems

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) seeks public comment on revised Chapter 29 Rules: Evaluation Systems for District and School Leaders and Teachers. The rules are being revised following passage of HEA0061 during the 2019 legislative session, which requires the implementation and administration of a comprehensive teacher evaluation system. The new statutes went into effect on July 1, 2019. Since going into effect, the WDE has engaged stakeholders from across the state to develop draft rule changes.

The rules will establish general criteria for school district teacher performance evaluation systems that provide school districts flexibility in designing teacher evaluations to improve classroom instruction. Under the proposed rules, the SBE will approve evaluation systems for leaders in the school district, and teachers who provide direct instruction to students. Approval of evaluation systems for other certified personnel, including nurses or instructional facilitators, will no longer be required. More information can be found in the Statement of Reasons.

At the September 20 meeting in Laramie, the SBE voted to withdraw proposed Chapter 29 rules and promulgate amended rules adding language that clarifies that school districts’ locally designed leader evaluation system must align to a majority of the benchmarks within professional Standard One of the state-defined system. The standard encompasses clear and consistent focus on maximizing the learning and growth of all students.

The public comment period for Chapter 29 rules will close at 11:59 p.m. on December 6, 2019. Comments may be submitted online or mailed to:

Laurel Ballard
Supervisor – Student/Teacher Resource Team
Wyoming Department of Education
122 W. 25th St. Suite E200
Cheyenne, WY 82002

All public comments will be recorded verbatim, including the submitter’s name and city of residence, on the Secretary of State website as part of the rules promulgation process. When commenting, specify which section of the rule the comment concerns.

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Media contact:

Michelle Panos, Communications Director


Introducing Level Up, Our Teacher-Leader Development Program

Dear Superintendents,

During our recent Superintendent’s Summit (S5S), I announced a new teacher-leader development program called Level Up. In coming days, you will receive the official announcement, along with some of the exciting activities planned for this next year. In a few bullets, I want to describe the impetus for this program:

  • Every teacher is a leader; all teachers need opportunities to hone their skills outside of the classroom and school. When quality teachers access relevant professional development, retention rates are higher.
  • Since I have been Wyoming’s state Superintendent, each Wyoming Teacher of the Year has asked me how I could utilize them as an advocate for the profession and educational policy. Level Up is my response.
  • Beyond the recognized teachers of the year, there are many promising teachers across our state, and not enough opportunities to develop teachers as leaders.

There will be more to come regarding Level Up!

October is Disability Awareness Month and educators everywhere are highlighting topics of awareness for learning disabilities, dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Down Syndrome, blindness, disability employment, and more. This year’s theme is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) 2019: The Right Talent, Right Now and celebrates contributions of workers with disabilities and spotlights the value of a workforce inclusive of their skills and talents.


plan a

Plan A School Counselor Professional Development Days continued across Wyoming this week. The forum explored changes in the Hathaway Scholarship Program post the passage of Senate File 43. WDE teammates brought the forum to Cheyenne, Rock Springs, Thermopolis, Casper, and Gillette.

Memos to be released:

  • 2019-122:   WDE684A Fall Subgroup Review Window Now Open
  • 2019-123:   Nominations Open for Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award
  • 2019-124:   Hathaway Scholarship Day – November 15
  • 2019-125:   Public Comment on Proposed Leader and Teacher Evaluation Rules
  • 2019-126:   Digital Threat Assessment Training Opportunities November 4-5



Four Wyoming Teachers Receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

CHEYENNE – Four Wyoming teachers – Necole Hanks, Amy Kassel, Helen Ommen, and Jim Stith – have received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). President Donald J. Trump made the announcement of the 2017/2018 winners on Tuesday.

PAEMST is the highest recognition that K-12 mathematics, science, or computer science teachers can receive in the U.S. Nominations and awards are facilitated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation.

Hanks teaches sixth-grade science at Powell Middle School, Kassel is the secondary mathematics curriculum coordinator and instructional facilitator with Laramie County School District #1 in Cheyenne, Ommen teaches gifted and talented students at Spring Creek Elementary School in Laramie, and Stith teaches environmental science at Newcastle High School.

“These four teachers are an inspiration to students and colleagues. They are true leaders,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “I am so very proud of Necole, Amy, Helen and Jim for their dedication to math and science education, and for their commitment to the students of Wyoming.”

A panel of distinguished mathematicians, scientists, and educators at the state and national level assess the applications before recommending nominees to OSTP. Teachers are selected based on their distinction in the classroom and dedication to improving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. Enacted by Congress in 1983, the program authorizes the President to award 108 math and science teachers each year in recognition of their contribution to excellent teaching and learning.

“I truly feel honored to receive an award of this magnitude,” Hanks said. “I am blessed to share my passion for teaching science to future world changers and even more fortunate to improve my practice each day.”

“I am eager to have the opportunity to build partnerships with like-minded colleagues for the benefit of students,” Ommen said. “This award will be a powerful tool for more innovation and learning.”

“Mathematics education is my passion,” said Kassel, who taught 7-12 grade mathematics at East High School in Cheyenne at the time of her 2017 nomination. “I am excited to be part of this community of teacher-leaders, with an opportunity to impact mathematics education in my district, and our state and nation.”

“It is an honor not only for myself, but also for the coworkers, mentors, and administrators who gave me the opportunity to advance my teaching abilities,” Stith said. “My love for science and knowledge was inspired by Sharla Dowding, a high school science teacher, and I strive to pass that passion on to my students.”

The awardees come from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools, and schools in four U.S. territories. Each recipient receives a certificate signed by the President; a trip to Washington D.C. to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities; and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.

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Media contact:

Michelle Panos, Communications Director


Recapping Some Education News and Information

Dear Superintendents,

Memos and this update are released to superintendents on Friday for weekend review. The same information becomes public on Monday.

I’d like to underscore a couple of memos this week:

First, there were changes to the literacy and dyslexia statute during the 2019 legislative session. The WDE and many others have rallied over the past year to identify best practices, provide training, and ensure that implementation of the law results in improved literacy teaching and learning. Here are two articles that highlight some of the hard work in our state:

Second, as of the 2018 session, Wyoming has a new state song, Wyoming Where I Belong. The associated memo provides music teacher-friendly resources and standards alignment information. It’s a beautiful song that students will love to learn.

In the News

Wyoming received  another substantial grant for computer science education. This time the grant is a federal Perkins grant for innovation and modernization. Here is the release. I am so proud of the partnerships that are the key to moving forward.

When we are serious about preparing students, we quickly recognize that education decisions aren’t made in a vacuum. Thanks to schools, business, and best practice partners:

  • Carbon County School District #1
  • Fremont County School District #14
  • Uinta County School District #1
  • University of Wyoming
  • Wyoming Professional Teaching Standards Board
  • Wyoming Workforce Development Council
  • Computer Science Teachers Association, Wyoming Chapter
  • American Institutes for Research

Laurel Ballard and the WDE team have done an outstanding job leading this charge!



Chelsie, Aimee, Danielle, and Michelle are part of the WDE team that made S5S a success last week

National Title I Conference is Rebranded

The National ESEA Conference will convene February 4-7, 2020, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia.The conference theme “Together for Equity” will focus on supporting disadvantaged children. Participants include state agency officials, school district administrators, school building leaders, and teachers – all gaining new knowledge, instructional strategies, and skills needed to transform student learning. Conference details, including registration materials, are available at:

Memos to be released on Monday, October 14:

  • 2019-117:   2020 Social Studies Workshop – Call for Presentations
  • 2019-118:   Fall 2019-20 Student Climate Survey for Alternative School Accountability
  • 2019-119:   Wyoming’s 2nd state song “Wyoming Where I Belong”
  • 2019-120:   K-3 Reading Assessment and Intervention Guidance
  • 2019-121:   Let’s Celebrate Digital Citizenship Week!



WDE Receives Federal Grant to Strengthen Computer Science Education

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) is one of nine entities across the country to be awarded federal grant money for Career and Technical Education (CTE); the WDE will receive $489,714 over the next three years to strengthen Computer Science education across the state.

The WDE will use the Innovation & Modernization Grant, a Perkins V program, to implement its Boot Up Wyoming initiative to bring Computer Science and computational thinking to every Wyoming classroom by 2022. To do that, the WDE will create Computer Science micro-credentials for teachers to improve instruction in the field. Additionally, the WDE will revise the micro-credentials to create a way for students to earn both high school credit and industry certification.

“This grant boosts our ability to ensure that Wyoming graduates are ready for college, a career, or military service,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “Computer Science education is relevant and imperative for every student. Wyoming is at the forefront of making sure the next generation is well-prepared for jobs that are ever-changing because of technology, and for jobs that don’t yet exist – but they will.”

Of the 64 eligible grant proposals reviewed for this competition, only nine were funded. The WDE’s proposal received one of the highest rankings from panels made up of reviewers with expertise in CTE and STEM education. The WDE will use the grant to help serve school districts in rural communities, and has already formed partnerships to make sure these under-served areas develop Computer Science curriculum.

Project partners include:

  • Carbon County School District #1
  • Fremont County School District #14
  • Uinta County School District #1
  • University of Wyoming
  • Wyoming Professional Teaching Standards Board
  • Wyoming Workforce Development Council
  • Computer Science Teachers Association, Wyoming Chapter
  • American Institutes for Research

“We know that access to high-quality Career and Technical Education options can open up new pathways to success for students,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in announcing the grant recipients. “It’s gratifying to see each of these grantees rethinking education and modernizing workforce training in their communities to ensure students have the skills they need for in-demand, high-paying jobs.”

The funds will assist districts that serve students in Qualified Opportunity Zones. These zones are designed to spur economic development and job creation in distressed communities throughout the country by providing tax benefits to investors who invest eligible capital into these communities.


Media contact:

Michelle Panos, Communications Director


Congrats to Our 2020 Teacher of the Year, Dane Weaver

Dear Superintendents,

Good afternoon and thank you for attending S5S 2019 – Pursuing Excellence Together – this week. It was a remarkable event and to those who participated, you brought with you enthusiasm, ideas, and questions. I hope you left feeling as inspired and motivated as I did. It was so great to see so many of you; and to those who were unable to make it to Laramie, we missed you!

During the conference, we announced the 2020 Wyoming Teacher of the Year – Dane Weaver, a 7-12 grade social studies teacher from Ten Sleep K-12 School. Dane’s charisma is infectious, and I am so excited that he will represent rural education, Wyoming, and the teaching profession.


Wyoming’s 2020 Teacher of the Year is Dane Weaver of Ten Sleep K-12 School!


Congratulations to all the District Teachers of the Year who traveled to Laramie to accept their awards during S5S. 

There are no memos this week.


Dane Weaver Named Wyoming’s 2020 Teacher of the Year

2020 Wyoming Teacher of the Year Dane Weaver

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow congratulates 2020 Wyoming Teacher of the Year, Dane Weaver.

CHEYENNE – Dane Weaver, a grade 7-12 social studies teacher at Ten Sleep K-12 School in Washakie County School District #2, has been named Wyoming’s 2020 Teacher of the Year, during the Superintendent’s Policy Summit in Laramie Wednesday.

“Dane has a special gift for teaching and leading,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “He teaches for the future – getting students ready for what’s to come, and he knows that relationships and connecting with students are as important as teaching technical skills. Dane’s charisma is infectious – I am so excited that he will represent rural education, Wyoming, and the teaching profession as our 2020 Teacher of the Year.”

Weaver is also the assistant high school football coach, high school student council advisor, and serves on the Building Intervention Team. He has taught in Ten Sleep the past three years. Weaver is a graduate of Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tennessee, earning a Bachelor’s of Art degree, then earning his Master’s in Educational Leadership from Carson Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee.

Weaver grew up in a service-based household. His mother, who was the first female agriculture teacher in Tennessee, believed in inspiring others through education.

Weaver said he believes students should not only be educated, but inspired to be life-long learners. His classroom is full of energy, with students driving the content towards a higher level of understanding. Weaver pushes students to investigate the content with a curious mind, breaking away from the drudgery of the traditional “sage of the stage” style education.

“Mr. Weaver is always willing to help a student who is struggling,” said Ten Sleep eighth-grader Kinley Anderson. “If I need any help in his class and it is a weekend or school is already out for the day, I can usually contact Mr. Weaver through Google Classroom and within a few minutes, I can have assistance with whatever I need help with. He is at school early and stays late, so students can come in at almost any time and receive help. In school, Mr. Weaver interacts with the students in an easy going way and he is always around to crack a joke or ask you how your day is going, but he still remains professional.”

“Mr. Weaver comes to work with enthusiasm and good humor every day,” said Ten Sleep science teacher Brian Titus. “His content knowledge is exceptional and his ability to connect with each student is a daily reminder to us all that we can make a significant difference through our relationships and that those relationships are the doorway to learning.”

“Let us come together and embrace change, let us revel in being different for the sake of our students,” Weaver said. He added that classrooms in Wyoming should be built to fit student needs. Classrooms need to be full of peer to peer collaboration. Classrooms should be enjoyable to our students, they should be welcoming, and built with rigor in mind. We need to be willing to change in a minute’s notice to better educate our students. Lessons that worked five years ago might be as relatable as an abacus to a kindergartner.

The Wyoming Teacher of the Year comes with the significant responsibility of representing the teaching profession in Wyoming. The Wyoming Teacher of the Year acts as liaison among the teaching community, Wyoming Legislature, Wyoming Department of Education, districts and communities. In addition, the Teacher of the Year is an education ambassador to businesses, parents, service organizations, and media, as well an education leader involved in teacher forums and education reform.

Along with the 2020 Wyoming Teacher of the Year, the Wyoming Department of Education also announced a new program called Level Up. The program will include all District Teachers of the Year and their principals, with the goal of elevating Wyoming’s education professionals by providing leadership development, continuous learning, building relationships, and increasing advocacy for the teacher profession.

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Photo of 2020 Wyoming Teacher of the Year

Media contact:
Michelle Panos, Communications Director


Congratulations to Our Blue Ribbon Schools

Dear Superintendents,

The Blue Ribbon School winners were announced this week – CONGRATULATIONS to Sheridan #2 and Sweetwater #2! Meadowlark Elementary in Sheridan and Truman Elementary in Green River are National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2019. The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. I look forward to celebrating with both schools!

As I compose this update, the Joint Education Committee (JEC) is meeting in Cody to discuss possible K-12 and higher education bills and issues. Here is a link to the agenda and materials. 


Dirk Andrews, teacher from Casper, was in Washington, DC at the same time I was. We saw each other at Congressman Cheney’s office under the watchful eye of “Hank” the Boxer.


Teachers in Gillette participated in Computer Science training this week. The training not only prepares teachers to teach CS but also works with schools to strategic plan around incorporating CS into the school culture.


It was easy to brag on the great work Wyoming is doing with Computer Science to Microsoft President Brad Smith.

Memos to be released September 30:

  • 2019-113:   Holiday Cards For Our Military Challenge
  • 2019-114:   Open Range Wyoming Launch
  • 2019-115:   New 1% Threshold District Reporting and Monitoring of Student Participation in WY-ALT
  • 2019-116:   Remote Education Information


Honoring Wyoming’s Women Leaders

Dear Superintendents,

It was a privilege to attend and honor women leaders from across our state at the Women of Influence event this week. The Education category was fielded by great nominees:

  • Carrie McCulloch-Chizek, Boys and Girls Club of Carbon County
  • Darrah Perez, Student/Artist/Entrepreneur/Freelance Reporter/ WildLand Firefighter, Central Wyoming College/Wyoming Public Radio/BIA Forestry WildLand FireFighting
  • Deb Riker, Special Education Director (retiring at the end of June 2019), Carbon County School District #2
  • Haley Seilbach, First grade teacher, Sage Elementary; Sweetwater County School District #1
  • Heather Fleming, Co-Founder of WY LIT and Decoding Dyslexia Wyoming
  • Kathleen Engle, Induction Mentor, Weston County School District
  • Keri Shannon, Principal, Stocktrail Elementary School
  • Dr. Laurel Ballard, Student/Teacher Resource Team Director, Wyoming Department of Education
  • Lynette St. Clair, Native American Education Coordinator, Fremont County School District 21, Fort Washakie School
  • Maryellen Tast, Dean of Outreach and Workforce Development, Laramie County Community College
  • Dr. Michelle Aldrich, Wyoming State Career and Technical Education Director, CTE Section Supervisor, Wyoming Department of Education
  • Paige Fenton Hughes, Superintendent, Converse County School District #1
  • Peggy Miller, Chair, Board of Trustees, Fremont County School District #2

Congratulations to all of these amazing leaders and a special congrats to the winner, Lynette St. Clair. 


Lynette St. Clair is named Wyoming’s Woman of Influence in Educationhath

The Hathway Team (Danielle, Bradley, Jen) tailgate before the UW football game. The line for swag was long!

Memos to be released on Monday, September 23:

  • 2019-110:   Wyoming Alternate Assessment (WY-ALT) Participation Guidance Document
  • 2019-111:   Coloring Books for Third Grade Students
  • 2019-112:   U.S. Presidential Scholars Program



2018-19 School Performance Ratings Released for Wyoming Schools

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) has released school accountability results for the 2018-19 school year. Full results are available online.

“The results show improvement from 2017-18 to 2018-19 with more schools exceeding expectations and fewer schools partially or not meeting expectations,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “Deliberate state and local supports are proving effective in helping schools improve student outcomes.”

This is the second year that schools have operated under a new comprehensive accountability system that reflects requirements from both state and federal accountability systems. School performance is evaluated  based on a combination of student performance indicators. Chief among those indicators is student performance on the state assessment, WY-TOPP.

Under state law, all Wyoming elementary, middle, and traditional high schools receive one of four School Performance Ratings (SPR): Exceeding Expectations, Meeting Expectations, Partially Meeting Expectations, or Not Meeting Expectations. For the first time, alternative schools also received a rating this year based on their performance on a different scoring model. The 2018-19 SPRs show that 56.1% of Wyoming traditional schools are Meeting or Exceeding Expectations and 70.6% of Wyoming alternative schools are Meeting or Exceeding Alternative School Expectations.






Under federal law, schools in need of support are identified. There are three types of support:

  • Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) is for Title I schools performing among the lowest in the state and any school with a graduation rate below 67 percent.
  • Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) is for any school that has a specific group of students that is not performing well.
  • Additional Targeted Support and Improvement (ATSI) is for schools that have a specific group of students that is chronically not performing well.

There are currently 20 schools designated as CSI, 42 schools designated as TSI, and one school designated as ATSI.

“State and federal requirements, working together, give us a comprehensive and transparent view of education in Wyoming,” Balow said. “These results give us a picture of which schools are performing well – and which need assistance and support, so we can better serve our students. At the state level we lead efforts to assist our lowest performing schools. The real work takes place when school leaders provide interventions to struggling students and improve school culture.”

The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) will host a media call-in at 1 p.m. on Monday, September 16 to discuss the 2018-19 school performance ratings. To join the call-in, visit, or dial 888-670-9530 or 307-438-9905, or join us in person in Room 227 of the Herschler East Building, 122 W. 25th St. E200 in Cheyenne.  


Accountability FAQ

Media contact:

Michelle Panos, Communications Director