All posts by tgabrukiewicz

WDE Seeks Public Input on Proposed 2023 Math and Science Standards

The Wyoming Department of Education is collecting public input on the 2023 Wyoming Math and Science Standards at the request of the State Board of Education (SBE). The collected input will be shared with the SBE.

The SBE resolved to reduce the standards load and enact an audit of the Math and Science Standards first. Input was also collected from school districts, and a Curriculum Directors’ Advisory Committee reviewed the work of the audit committee and the input from districts to make a final recommendation to the SBE. The SBE passed a motion to collect public and educator input on the proposed 2023 Wyoming Math and Science Standards at its meeting on February 24, 2023.

Provide written/verbal input through any of the following options:

  • Complete the Math and Science Input Survey by 11:59 p.m. on May 11, 2023.
  • Attend a virtual Public Input Session by registering in advance through the links below. After registering, participants will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. There are four sessions:
  1. From 3:30-5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29Register for Session #1.
  2. From 9-10:30 a.m. on Friday, March 31Register for Session #2.
  3. From 5:30-7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4Register for Session #3.
  4. From 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. on Thursday, April 6Register for Session #4.


Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director

Update from Superintendent Degenfelder – March 24, 2023

As Governor Mark Gordon took final action this week on bills passed during the 2023 general legislative session, I would like to take this opportunity to update you on bills that directly affect education in Wyoming, and how they fit into our initiatives of parental empowerment and choice, of better preparing our students for jobs and citizenship, reducing bureaucracy, and supporting our teachers.

As well as looking back on this past legislative session, we also look toward the legislature’s 2023 interim committee meetings, where legislators will be discussing several topics that we support.

Take a look at this video I have prepared for you.




Megan Degenfelder
Wyoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Four Wyoming Teachers Named 2023 State Finalists for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

CHEYENNE –  Four Wyoming teachers – Emmy Hergert, Rick Simineo, Charity Penn, and London Jenks – have been selected as the 2023 state finalists for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

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.

Hergert teaches seventh-grade math at Thermopolis Middle School; Simineo teaches math at East High School in Cheyenne; Penn teaches science at Douglas Middle School in Douglas; and Jenks teaches physics, environmental science, earth systems/space science at Hot Springs County High School in Thermopolis. Penn also is a 2021 finalist in the science cohort, which has yet to be awarded on PAEMST’s two-year cycle.

Each year, up to six finalists in each state are chosen for the award through a rigorous peer review process. The applications are forwarded to the National Science Foundation, where the final selection for the national Presidential Awardee is made. 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.

Award recipients receive the following:

  • A certificate signed by the President of the United States.
  • A paid trip to Washington, D.C., to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities.
  • A $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.
  • An opportunity to build lasting partnerships with colleagues across the nation.


Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director

Wyoming Students Selected for United States Senate Youth Program

CHEYENNE – Phoebe Elaine Allbright of Lusk and Sophia Gomelsky of Laramie will join Senator John Barrasso and Senator Cynthia Lummis in representing Wyoming during the 61st annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) Washington Week, set for March 4-11, 2023.

The USSYP was established by the U.S. Senate in 1962, and provides an educational experience for students interested in public service careers. The program provides an in-depth view of the Senate and federal government, as well as a deeper understanding of the relationships between the Legislative, Judicial, and Executive Branches. During the program week, the student delegates will attend online meetings and briefings with senators, the president, a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies and senior members of the national media, among others.

Delegates and alternates are selected by the state departments of education nationwide, after nomination by teachers and principals. The chief state school officer for each jurisdiction confirms the final selection.

Allbright and Gomelsky were selected from among the state’s top student leaders to be part of the 104 national student delegation. The overall mission of the program is to help instill within each class of USSYP student delegates more profound knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service. In addition to the program week, The Hearst Foundations provide each student with a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history and public affairs.

Allbright, a junior at Niobrara County High School, serves as the Wyoming Future Business Leaders of America’s (FBLA) state secretary. In addition to holding state office, she is the vice president of her local FBLA chapter and the secretary of her local Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) chapter. She is a two-time national qualifier in both organizations. Allbright is also a member of her local National Honor Society chapter. She has been a representative in Student Council and has served her Class of 2024 as the treasurer since her freshman year. She helps her community by volunteering at her county library alongside her FBLA chapter and helping her 4-H club host monthly community service projects. She is also currently serving National FBLA as the communications/social media director of the Mountain Plains Region Council. Allbright’s future plans include pursuing an undergraduate degree in business management and public relations, and eventually owning her own business.

Gomelsky, a senior at Laramie High School, serves as the Wyoming DECA state president, an organization with a focus on business and entrepreneurship. She also serves as the Speech and Debate Team captain, Mock Trial co-captain, and has held leadership positions in theatre, such as student director, assistant choreographer, and several lead roles. Gomelsky’s successful public speaking and competitive career include representing Wyoming at DECA Internationals, national circuit debate, and the National Mock Trial competition. She is also Wyoming Girls State governor, advocating for youth involvement in political processes across the state. She has helped plan a local food drive, rent relief initiative, and mural painting project, and disseminates election information, assists with voter registration, works as a student election judge, and canvasses for local candidates. She is a legislative intern, and worked as a page at the state legislature during the 2022 budget session. She represents the Student Body through the Laramie Youth Council, Youth Advocacy Board, National Honor Society and as a Student Council representative. Gomelsky’s future plans include double majoring in political science and international studies with a minor in Spanish at the University of Wyoming.

Chosen as alternates to the 2023 program were Caroline Hope Di Senso of Cheyenne, who attends Cheyenne East High School, and Karina Catherine Lea from Thermopolis, who attends Hot Springs County High School.

For more information, visit:


Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director

WDE and PTSB Announce Retention and Recruitment Task Force

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) and the Wyoming Professional Teaching Standards Board (PTSB) has announced its Retention and Recruitment Task Force; the mission of the task force will be to develop recommendations for state policymakers, district-level, and school-level staff to increase efforts to positively impact the education workforce.

The task force is composed of 25 members: three district superintendents, one personnel director, one school counselor, three principals, 10 teachers, one preservice teacher, three educators who have left the profession, one parent, two post-secondary representatives, and one industry representative.

Task force members include:

  • Superintendent – Gillian Chapman, Jackson.
  • Superintendent – John Goldhardt, Laramie.
  • Superintendent – Shane Ogden, Meeteetse.
  • Personnel Director – Tanya Wall, Rawlins.
  • School Counselor – Mary Litman, Casper.
  • Principal – Christina Mills, Shoshoni.
  • Principal – Tiffany Rehbein, Cheyenne.
  • Principal – Nathan Tedjeske, Cody.
  • Teacher – Chase Anfinson, Glenrock.
  • Teacher – Alexis Barney, Ranchester.
  • Teacher – Charles Fournie, Cheyenne.
  • Teacher – Megan Garnhart, Sheridan .
  • Teacher – Suzanne Masek, Lander.
  • Teacher – Jeannette McCoy, Casper.
  • Teacher – Nancy Nelson, Greybull.
  • Teacher – Darci Ostermiller, Powell.
  • Teacher – Caryn Pursley, Rawlins.
  • Teacher – Zach Schneider, Casper
  • Preservice Teacher – Sarah Turner, Laramie.
  • Previous Educator – Diana Espy, Rawlins
  • Previous Educator – Iva Moss, Arapahoe.
  • Previous Educator – Andrea Wood, Crook County.
  • Parent Representative – Carrie Murthy, Laramie.
  • Postsecondary Representative – Alan Buss, Laramie.
  • Postsecondary Representative – Teresa Stauffer, Gillette.
  • Industry Representative – Dan Benford, Cheyenne.

The task force will have its first meeting on February 11, 2023, in Casper.


Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director

WDE Releases 2021-22 Graduation Rates

CHEYENNE – Wyoming’s graduation rates have remained statistically strong – above 80 percent since 2015-16. The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) announced today that high school graduation rates were 81.8 percent in 2021-22, a decrease of .6 percent from 2020-21’s 82.4 percent, which was the highest rate reported in a nine-year span.

“Wyoming’s resolve in keeping schools open during the COVID-19 global lockdowns of the 2020-21 school year has proven to be a win for our students and communities,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Megan Degenfelder.


“While graduation rates remain relatively stable, there remains work to do to improve rates going forward,” Degenfelder said. “One thing we can look to is the graduation rates of CTE students. The higher graduation rates of CTE students show that when we identify career pathways for students, and work with our business and industry stakeholders, students achieve great success.”

Students concentrating in a Career and Technical Education (CTE) program of study had much higher graduation rates than their peers.


Fifteen Wyoming school districts posted graduation rates of 90% or above, including:

  • Sheridan #3, 100%
  • Sublette #9, 100%
  • Washakie #2, 100%
  • Bighorn #4, 95.7%
  • Sublette #1, 95.6%
  • Fremont #24, 94.7%
  • Uinta #4, 94.4%
  • Teton #1, 93.8%
  • Lincoln #1, 93.8%
  • Laramie #2, 93.3%
  • Park #1, 93.3%
  • Johnson #1, 92.2%
  • Fremont #2, 91.7%
  • Weston #1, 90.9%
  • Crook #1, 90.6%

Full graduation rate statistics are available here.

Since the 2009-10 school year, the WDE has calculated graduation rates using the Federal Four-Year Adjusted Cohort Methodology established by the U.S. Department of Education, complying with federal law that requires all states to calculate graduation rates the same way. Students are counted in the four-year, “on-time,” high school graduation rate if they earn a diploma by September 15 following their cohort’s fourth year. Five- and six-year graduation rates are also calculated, and can be viewed with the rest of the graduation rate data.

 Graduation Rate Brochure

Graduation Rate Methodology


Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director

WDE Media Conference Tuesday to Discuss 2021-22 Graduation Rates

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) will host a virtual media conference at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, January 31, 2023, to discuss the 2021-22 Wyoming high school graduation rate. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Megan Degenfelder and WDE staff will be available to answer media questions.

Media may register in advance here. After registering, participants will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the press conference.

Full graduation rate statistics for the 2021-22 school year will be available Tuesday morning. Since the 2009-10 school year, the WDE has calculated graduation rates using the Federal Four-Year Adjusted Cohort methodology established by the U.S. Department of Education, which complies with federal law that requires all states to calculate graduation rates exactly the same. Students are counted in the four-year (or “on-time”) high school graduation rate if they earn a diploma by September 15 following their cohort’s fourth year. Five- and six-year graduation rates are also calculated, and can be viewed with the rest of the graduation rate data.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director

Governor Gordon, Wyoming Military Department and the WDE Award First Two Purple Star Schools in Wyoming

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education, along with Governor Mark Gordon and the Wyoming Military Department, awarded Wyoming’s first two Purple Star Schools – Freedom Elementary School and McCormick Junior High School – today at a ceremony at the Wyoming State Capitol.

“I am excited to help launch the Purple Star Schools Program in support of military-connected students as they transition into their new homes and schools here in Wyoming,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Megan Degenfelder. “Schools like Freedom Elementary and McCormick Junior High prioritize making these students feel instantly welcome and give them valuable support in acclimating into Wyoming.”

The Wyoming Purple Star School Program – in partnership with the Governor’s Challenge – recognizes the efforts of Wyoming K-12 schools that are committed and supportive of military students and families – known as military-connected – as they transition to their new homes and schools. The program was designed to help with the challenges of high mobility by setting standards of commitment for the school’s award of the military-friendly Purple Star designation. All Wyoming public and private schools are eligible to apply for the Purple Star School Award.

“This program is essential to helping service members and their families navigate the added challenges they are often presented with,” said Maj. Gen. Greg Porter, Adjutant General, Wyoming National Guard. “Despite those challenges, military children are some of the most resilient people I have ever met. We will only see positive things from the schools’ dedication to providing a seamless transition and welcoming atmosphere for military students under this program.”

Both Freedom Elementary and McCormick Junior High Schools have a continuous focus that welcomes new sons and daughters of military parents. School staff are notified to prepare for and welcome new students. At Freedom, arriving students are provided an elementary Student-to-Student representative-led school tour and a welcome packet containing relevant information. New students meet with the school counselor to share previous locations, hobbies, and challenges they have faced during school in the past. At McCormick, new military-connected students are met by members of the current student body, given an informative flier (about the school, city, etc.), shown around the building, and invited to sit with their peers at lunch. Both schools’ staff continue to ensure that the student is transitioning well.

“Freedom Elementary is honored to receive the distinguished Purple Star award. We have the distinct opportunity to serve students and families at F.E. Warren Air Force Base,” said Freedom Elementary Principal Chad Delbridge “Freedom Elementary staff are committed and honored to support and respond to the educational and personal challenges that military children and their families face during their transition to a new school and community.”

Freedom Elementary and McCormick Junior High Schools also support departing students. Fellow students and staff sign names and write positive messages around the borders of a Wyoming map, which is framed and presented to the student to remember the experience at Freedom Elementary, and McCormick students are presented with an autograph book prior to leaving to say goodbye to friends and classmates.

“Being a Purple Star school was a goal for me because so many of our students at McCormick are military-connected children,” said McCormick Principal Tina Troudt. “Their needs, whether it be starting our school mid-year, leaving our school mid-year, or having a deployed parent, are unique and deserve unique support.  We are proud of our military-connected students and want them to know we support them and the goals they have for their future.”

With more than 1.1 million military-connected students attending schools, issues of school transition are a high priority for families. The most current data indicates that Wyoming has 2,140 military-connected students in our schools. The frequent relocations required of military personnel mean that, on average, military-connected children move six to nine times between kindergarten and high school graduation. As they transition between schools, these students must adapt to varying cultures, school populations, curricula, standards, course offerings, schedules, and graduation requirements. As a result, military-connected students often face unique academic and social-emotional challenges. The mission deployment of a parent or parents can also contribute to impactful stress on a student.

Additional information about the Wyoming Purple Star Program and how schools can become Purple Star Schools can be found here.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director

Summer Food Service Programs Available Across Wyoming

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Summer Food Service program for kids offered through the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) served thousands of meals last summer to Wyoming children and teens.

The Summer Food Service Program is a federally funded, state-administered program. The program reimburses providers who serve free healthy meals to children and teens during the summer months when school is not in session. In addition to serving food, summer food sites often include activities for students to do during the summer, including crafts and games.

If you are interested in being a serving site, contact WDE Nutrition Programs State Director Carla Bankes at 307-777-6263 or

USDA Non-discrimination Statement

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director

Superintendent Degenfelder Appoints Former Deputy Secretary of State Karen Wheeler as Boards and Commissions Coordinator

CHEYENNE – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Megan Degenfelder has named Karen Wheeler as the Boards and Commissions Coordinator for the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE).

Wheeler began her 37-year career with the Secretary of State’s Office in 1985, and served under seven Secretaries of State. Wheeler finished her career in the Secretary of State’s Office in 2022, serving as the Deputy Secretary of State. She is now a private consultant, and will be staffing and advising the Superintendent on her board and commission work.

“I am thrilled to announce the addition of Karen Wheeler to our leadership team,” Degenfelder said. “One of my top priorities as State Superintendent is to maximize return on state lands and investments for schools and other beneficiaries. Karen’s nearly 40 years of experience in the state’s executive branch, many of which included regular staffing of the State Loan and Investment Board, State Board of Land Commissioners, and State Building Commission for the Secretary of State, will be an invaluable resource on this priority.”

Wheeler started in the Secretary of State’s business division as a registrar, then transferred to the securities division as a financial analyst, where she audited stockbrokers and brokerage firms. She then became the Compliance Division Director in the Secretary of State’s office, and was responsible for the regulation of the investment industry as well as the registered agent industry.

As the Deputy Secretary of State, Wheeler was responsible for all statutory duties and operations of the Secretary of State’s Office, including planning, budget, personnel, staff development, boards and commissions, legislature, and oversight of service to the public. During her time as Deputy, the Secretary of State’s Office received national recognition for their state of the art administrative rules system and blockchain and digital asset regulation.

She  joins a WDE  leadership team that includes Dicky Shanor as Chief of Staff, Wanda Maloney as Chief Policy Officer, Trent Carroll as Chief Operations Officer, Shelley Hamel as Chief Academic Officer, and Linda Finnerty as Communications Director.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director