All posts by tgabrukiewicz

Federal Updates

Dear Superintendents,

Congratulations to Scott Marion, Executive Director at the Center for Assessment, who was appointed to the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB). Scott was the Director of Assessment and Accountability in Wyoming until 2003. He continues to work with the Wyoming State Board of Education, the WDE, and the Wyoming Legislature on education accountability. Until 2020, former Wyoming Governor Jim Geringer served on NAGB. It’s always good to have Wyoming ties in national leadership positions.

Federal Updates

On October 8, President Biden signed into law the K-12 Cybersecurity Act, aimed at protecting sensitive information maintained by schools across the country.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated its quarantine guidance for K-12 schools.

rita

Happy Birthday to the Heart of WDE, Rita Watson (middle). In addition to her birthday, she celebrates 52 years with the State of Wyoming this month.

Memos to be released to be released today:

2021-124-ESSER-Funds-Prior-Written-Approval-for-Construction-Projects-PDF

Blue Balow Signature

Public Comment Sought on Removal of Rules Chapters 4 and 45

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education invites the public to comment on the proposed removal of Rules Chapters 4 and 45.

The Chapter 4 rule set originated in 2008 and is out of date and not relevant at this time. When the rules were created, the legislature designated funding to all districts operating in the red financially regarding nonprofit food service accounts. In order to be eligible for funding, districts were required to follow the rules set forth in Chapter 4. This rule set is proposed to be removed from the agency’s list of rules.

To submit public comment, review the State of Reasons and the rule changes here or

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdNCcoWryg5ZfOy5r2KEulBdWlx2EDxu9NANlk6yHwHq_XnKg/viewform

The Chapter 45 rules were adopted due to 2018 Wyoming Session Laws, Chapter 137, section 6(b) regarding a special education out-of-district placement appropriation. The law only provided funding for one biennium and not renewed. Chapter 45 is proposed to be removed from the agency’s list of rules.

To submit public comment, review the Statement of Reasons and the rule changes here or

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSckZcJNDOIRN95ECBqB4oyxZcZZsPrEstFHB1IPQXqwqIgZsg/viewform

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

Wyoming’s FASFA Campaign Begins

Dear Superintendents,

During the month of October we proudly recognize:

Wyoming has kicked off its FAFSA campaign in full and the new FAFSA application is now available. We have brought the updated application, that is easier to navigate, plus many resources to the front and center for counselors, students, and parents across the state. And, if you are at the next UW game, stop by the Hathaway Scholarship table before the game to get a little Hathaway and FAFSA “swag.”

WAIC

Wyoming Agriculture in the Classroom (WAIC) offers free resources for teachers including science curriculum and teacher trainings. All content is aligned with Wyoming’s content and performance standards and UW credit is given for participating in trainings.

waic

 

IN OTHER NEWS:

  • On Thursday, September 30 the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security held a hearing titled “Protecting Kids Online: Facebook, Instagram, and Mental Health Harms.” To learn more, click here.
  • The Institution of Education Sciences (IES) released a report examining district strategies for remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic in Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming. To read the report, click here.
  • The Hunt Institute released “The COVID Constituency: Emerging Priorities for Education Leaders.” The report examines the state of education in the U.S. both before and during the pandemic and provides recommendations for States and districts. To read the report, click here.

 

1room

Students in Thermopolis took a step back in time to 1920 at the grand re-opening of the Middleton one-room schoolhouse.


Memo to be released today:

2021-120-Public-Comment-on-Proposed-School-Schedules-Rules-PDF

Blue Balow Signature

Wyoming’s 2022 Teacher of the Year

Dear Superintendents,

We had a fantastic virtual Wyoming Education Summit (WES) conference last week. Thank you for attending! Our keynote speakers were excellent and the breakout sessions were informative and relevant. Always, the most exciting part of WES is celebrating district teachers of the year and announcing the Wyoming Teacher of the Year. Congratulations to the 2022 Wyoming Teacher of the Year, Brittney Montgomery of Green River! We are excited to welcome all of the district recipients and their principals into the Level Up! leadership program.

Several weeks ago I noted in this update that Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15 – October 15. In Wyoming we celebrate in a number of ways and one opportunity is the Wyoming Latina Youth Conference. Participants can join virtually or in-person October 8-9. Here is a letter from me with more information about the conference. Please share with your networks.

toy

2022 WY Teacher of the Year, Brittney Montgomery with Superintendent Balow and 2021 Wyoming Teacher of the Year, Alexis Barney

Here is a touching back-to-school letter from the 2021 national Teacher of the Year.

FEDERAL UPDATES

  • The U.S. Department of Education (USED) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released two virtual “resource binders,” to assist schools and institutions — one for K-12 schools and the other for postsecondary institutions — contain fact sheets, Q&As, letters to educators and school leaders, and related materials about their responsibilities to provide educational environments free from discrimination under the federal civil rights laws enforced by OCR.
  • Through September 30, the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) is soliciting feedback on updating its framework for the 2028 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in science.
  • The USED Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) issued an “OSEP Fast Facts” on race and ethnicity of children with disabilities served under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and a “Hand in Hand” supplemental tool that guides parents and stakeholders through the information.

Memos to be released today:

Blue Balow Signature

Brittney Montgomery Named Wyoming’s 2022 Teacher of the Year

CHEYENNE – Brittney Montgomery, a first-grade teacher at Sweetwater County School District #2’s Harrison Elementary School in Green River, was named Wyoming’s 2022 Teacher of the Year during Wednesday’s Wyoming Education Summit.

Montgomery is an advocate for her students and believes in every student’s ability to grow academically and socially, setting students up for success. Montgomery uses positive reinforcement, motivates, and encourages students to become lifelong learners. She teaches students to take ownership of their learning and to be advocates for themselves and their peers.

“I am so excited to work with Brittney as Wyoming’s Teacher of the Year,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “Her skill and passion in the classroom and as a teacher leader will represent Wyoming well. Brittany’s belief in teaching the entire child is evident –  she has a positive impact on the students she teaches. As Teacher of the Year, her influence and impact will extend to colleagues and others across the state and nation.”

Every student Montgomery encounters is treated as if they were her own child. When school shut down, Montgomery began reading stories online to help children keep a sense of normalcy. This was quickly picked up by a local news source and “Storytime with Mrs. Montgomery” was shared with thousands of children across the country.

“One of the things when I think about Brittney as an educator is her ability to connect with kids and build relationships –  it just puts her over the top,” said Steven Lake, Principal of Harrison Elementary School, “The little things set her apart. During the pandemic, Brittney’s story time turned into something that ended up impacting students across the county. She has such positive energy that is infectious for staff and for students.”

Montgomery said she has a desire to help those pursuing a career in education. She works with new educators as a mentor-teacher and spends time helping college students pursuing their degree in education. Montgomery is an active member of her school leadership committee and served as secretary for the Green River Education Association.

“I am honored to have been chosen as the 2022 Wyoming Teacher of the Year,” Montgomery said. “We are blessed in Wyoming with some of the best educators in the nation and I am proud to have been nominated beside them. Congratulations to all of the 2022 District Teachers of the Year. I look forward to representing – and being an ambassador – of education in our incredible state.”

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 as an education leader involved in teacher forums and education reform.

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Photo of the 2022 Teacher of the Year

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

WDE Seeks Public Input on Proposed Fine and Performing Arts Standards

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education is collecting public input on proposed changes to the 2022 Wyoming Fine and Performing Arts Content and Performance Standards at the request of the State Board of Education (SBE). The collected input will be shared with the SBE.

To provide input, review the 2022 Wyoming Fine and Performing Arts Content and Performance Standards. Written or verbal input can be provided through the following options:

  1. Complete the Fine and Performing Arts Standards Public Survey by 11:59 p.m. on November 3, 2021.
  2. Attend the virtual Public Input Meeting from 4:30-6 p.m. MST on Monday, October 11, 2021. (click link to Join Zoom Meeting or call in at 346-248-7799 and enter Meeting ID: 972-4048-7034).
  3. Attend the virtual Public Input Meeting from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. MST on Thursday, October 14, 2021. (click link to Join Zoom Meeting or call in at 346-248-7799 and enter Meeting ID: 978-3579-4572).

The proposed standards provide for 11 standards in five disciplines: dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts. The changes were developed by a review committee of 30 members, including educators, business members, community members, and a parent.

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

Racines, Balow to Make History, Compete in Wyoming’s One Shot Antelope Hunt

CHEYENNE – State Auditor Kristi Racines and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow will compete in the 2021 Wyoming One Shot Antelope Hunt September 15-18. While notable past shooters include the likes of General Norman Schwarzkopf, Roy Rogers, Senator Al Simpson, and Vice President Dick Cheney, this is the first year that women will participate as hunters.

“The One Shot Antelope Hunt has been a cherished Wyoming tradition for generations,” Governor Mark Gordon said. “It is a special year for the One Shot. I’m looking forward to spending time in the great outdoors with friends who appreciate our hunting legacy.”

The purpose of the event is to promote the ideals of good sportsmanship and game conservation, which has not changed since its inception 77 years ago. Emphasis is placed on camaraderie, ability in the field, and accuracy with a big-game rifle. In 1975, the Hunt partnered with the Water For Wildlife® Foundation, a conservation organization designed to benefit wildlife with a focus on providing water sources to drought-stricken habitats.

“I’m honored and humbled to be a part of this historic hunt, particularly since it’s in my home county,” Racines said. “In Wyoming, hunting is a critical part of our culture, and for good reason. It engenders respect for our lands, our wildlife, and most importantly, for each other. This hunt honors our past, while carrying these important values into the future.”

With the inclusion of seven women in this year’s hunt, several of the traditions have been altered or omitted from the event. Ceremonies this year include an Indian Ceremony, coordinated with members of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe. Hunters will hear the “Legend of the Hunt” and participate in a brothers and sisters ceremony, in which participants’ bullets are blessed for the hunt.

“The purpose of the hunt remains unchanged: to promote the ideals of sportsmanship and game conservation,” said Darin Hubbel, President of the One Shot Hunt Board of Directors. “It has always been our goal to bring new hunters and supporters to the community while maintaining strong traditional ties to our roots. By opening our event to a more diverse group, we ensure both the event and the sport of hunting remain viable for future generations. We also want to thank the Wyoming Game and Fish and the Shoshone Tribe for their continued support.”

Hunters shoot individually and compete on teams of three. Racines is on a team with Governor Gordon. Balow is on this year’s only all-Wyoming, all-women’s team with Wyoming State Representative Ember Oakley and Megan Degenfelder of Morningstar Partners. There is one other sponsored all-women’s team competing.

“It is novel to think about ‘breaking through the glass ceiling’ by being the first women to compete in the One Shot,” Balow said. “But, I assure you that is not why we are participating. Like others before us, we appreciate the comradery of the hunt and the stories that follow, we grow from the self-reliance of self-confidence that comes from an ethical harvest, and we are committed to conservation of wildlife and outdoor resources.”

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

COVID-19 Action Plan

Dear Superintendents,

Federal FYI:

This week President Biden announced his COVID-19 Action Plan. The plan focuses on three priority areas:

  • Get more people vaccinated.
  • Decrease hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19.
  • Keep schools and our economy open.

President Biden also announced that the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a rule that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require workers to produce a negative test result at least  weekly. While this requirement has been widely publicized around its impact on workers in the private sector, it is probable that public sector employees – including K-12 educators – will be included in the 26 states and 2 territories that have OSHA-Approved State Plans. Wyoming is one of the states with an OSHA approved plan. We anticipate more information in the coming days.


stem

Students at the Wild West Air Show STEM DAY on September 10

Memos to be released today:

Blue Balow Signature

Wyoming Senators Driskill and Dockstader Join State Superintendent Jillian Balow to Lead Fight Against Critical Race Theory in Wyoming

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This release has been updated to include a link to the draft legislation, as well as a link to the full media conference.)

CHEYENNE – Wyoming Senator Ogden Driskill will introduce state legislation to fight back against Critical Race Theory (CRT) in Wyoming; with Senate President Dan Dockstader co-sponsoring the bill.

Driskill’s Civics Transparency Act is currently in draft form with the Legislative Service Office. Driskill said his bill gives “parents the tools to know what is being taught in their children’s classrooms and prevents the indoctrination found in the critical race theory curriculum that has been pushed by the far-left and has found its way into some classrooms.”

The public can read the draft legislation here. They can watch the full media conference here.

Driskill’s efforts will establish Wyoming as a leader among states in keeping critical race theory out of classrooms while ensuring full transparency as to what is being taught on a day-to-day basis.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow, an outspoken critic of Critical Race Theory and the Biden Administration’s push to incorporate it into K-12 classroom curriculum, supports the Civics Transparency Act.

“K-12 classrooms are not an appropriate forum for radical political theory such as CRT,” she said. “But it is not enough as state leaders to say what shouldn’t be taught, we also need to help school districts with what should be taught. That is why this bill is so critical. This bill empowers parents with the tools they need to oversee what is being taught in their district and provides guidance to districts on comprehensive U.S. history and civics instruction.”

“We cannot stand by and let America’s history be rewritten,” Senate President Dockstader said. “We honor facts, we learn history, good and bad, and we recognize that Wyoming is the Equality State.”

Driskill said he intends for this legislation to “reinforce that no one race is inherently better or worse than the other, but that in America the human race is just as the U.S. Constitution says — equal.

“To prepare Wyoming students for their future, they must learn how to create opinions and ideologies on their own terms, based on factual knowledge of history, rather than on the terms of Nancy Pelosi, the far-left, and Hollywood,” Driskill added.

Background: The Civics Transparency Act provides for civics curriculum and materials to be published on school district websites so that parents and taxpayers can review them before the school year begins. The Act also expands guidance on teachings about the US and Wyoming constitutions, and the American ideal that discrimination against anyone for their immutable characteristics or religion is wrong.

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

Senate Majority Floor Leader Driskill, President Dockstader and State Superintendent Balow to Host Media Conference Friday

CHEYENNE – Wyoming Senators Dan Dockstader and Ogden Driskill will join State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow outside the Superintendent’s Capitol Office to host a media conference at 10 a.m. on Friday, September 10. They will discuss proposed legislation to fight back against Critical Race Theory in Wyoming’s K-12 classrooms.

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