All posts by tgabrukiewicz

WDE Seeks Public Comment on 21st Century Community Learning Center Waiver

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) intends to apply for a Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers waiver for the 2020-21 school year, and will take public comment starting on September 23, 2020 and ending on October 7, 2020.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) restricts activities provided by a 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program to activities provided only during non-school hours or periods when school is not in session. Under this waiver, the WDE may permit 21st CCLC programs to provide supplemental activities when school is in session but students are not receiving in-person instruction. All other requirements for a 21st CCLC program continue to apply.

On September 18, 2020, due to the extraordinary circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic and unprecedented obstacles schools, teachers, students, and their families are facing as the 2020-2021 school year begins, the US Department of Education offered flexibility to states regarding the requirement in section 4201(b)(1)(A) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, reauthorized as ESSA, that a 21st CCLC program operate “during non school hours or periods when school is not in session (such as before and after school or during summer recess).” Given the hybrid approach some schools are utilizing in which students are in school part of the week and participating in distance learning during other times, students may benefit from dedicated personnel and enhanced technological resources to help them better engage with virtual  lessons, independent work that is assigned, and other academic enrichment activities during the portion of the week when they are not physically present in school but school is in session remotely for some portion of the day.

Input may be submitted online or mailed to:

Karen Bierhaus
Program Consultant
Wyoming Department of Education
320 West Main Street, Room 124
Riverton, WY 82501

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

Alexis Barney Named Wyoming’s 2021 Teacher of the Year

CHEYENNE – Alexis Barney, a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at Evansville Elementary School in Natrona County School District #1, was named Wyoming’s 2021 Teacher of the Year Tuesday, during the Wyoming Education Summit.

“Congratulations to Alexis on being named Wyoming’s 2021 Teacher of the Year,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “I find that her passion and charisma are contagious – and I’m excited for her to share that with others over the next year. Alexis has the heart, mindset, and drive of an excellent teacher. In this role, she will continue to inspire many as she learns to advocate for excellent teaching and learning.”

Barney grew up in Saratoga and graduated from the from the University of Wyoming at Casper with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education in 2016. She graduated from Capella University with a master’s degree in Educational Psychology in 2016. At Evansville Elementary, Barney is the English Language Arts goal team leader and also serves on the school leadership team. She also is the School Transformation team leader and the Lego Robotics coach and Reading Club coordinator.

Barney said her philosophy is grounded in empowering students to be kind and courageous, and creating life-long learners who are inquisitive and excited about the world around them, finding success no matter their circumstances.

“Our attitude is going to be infectious.” Barney said. “I want to empower people to see things in a different light, helping them to find resources, and really turn those ‘can’ts’ into ‘cans.’ ”

She has frequently presented reading strategies with her co-chair at teaching conferences around the state, as well as in Colorado.

“Alexis is without a doubt one of the finest educators I have worked with in my nearly three decades in education,” said Wayne Tuttle, Principal of Evansville Elementary school. “Students thrive in Alexis’ class because of her high expectations, innovative engagement strategies, and relevant learning. When a principal looks for an educator to be an anchor of their school for decades to come, they are searching for someone of Alexis’ quality.”

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.

“Wyoming has a strong sense of resilience and grit, as a community and as a whole,” Barney said. “And I think Wyoming teachers demonstrate that so well. I want to represent that grit and resilience and bolster that community. We need everyone involved – and to do that, we have to come together as a community. I think I can bring energy and excitement to our teachers.”

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Photo of 2021 Wyoming Teacher of the Year

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

Last Chance to Apply for Roadtrip Nation Adventure

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Roadtrip is scheduled to roll in April of 2021. In anticipation of the Wyoming Roadtrip, the application and selection process for Roadtrippers has begun. Wyoming youth who could use some insight or inspiration for their future, and are ages 18-24, can apply here by October 4, 2020.

The Wyoming Department of Education, along with the Wyoming Workforce Development Council, are sponsoring the Wyoming Road Trip project through Roadtrip Nation that will help empower Wyoming residents to identify their interests and explore pathways aligned with their unique aspirations and skills. The project is fueled by a Daniels Fund grant.

For 15 years, Roadtrip Nation has made it their mission to talk with professionals of every kind and ask the questions that no one is asking – honest questions about their struggles, successes, and how they figured out the age-old dilemma, “What should I do with my life?”

For more information, visit roadtripnation.com.

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

Wyoming Awarded $43.6 Million Literacy Grant

Dear Superintendents,

Last week, our office enthusiastically shared news of a $43.3 million grant to create a comprehensive state literacy program to advance literacy skills — including pre-literacy skills, reading, and writing — for students from birth through grade 12, including limited-English-proficient students and students with disabilities. The grant cycle is five years and one of our first steps is to put together a statewide literacy panel. Here is the media release. 

1776 Commission

President Trump announced the creation of the “1776 Commission” to counter more critical historical narratives of the American founding like the one popularized by the New York Times’ 1619 Project. The 1776 Commission will “restore patriotic education to our schools,” Trump said.

Health Guidance Update

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon announced the extension of current health orders this week. One significant change to the orders includes the addition of indoor close-contact activities and sports.

Governor’s news release

Twelfth Continuation of Wyoming Health Orders (schools mostly on pages 7-9)

Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released indicators to help schools make dynamic decisions about in-person learning as local conditions evolve throughout the pandemic.  When coupled with local data about community spread, these indicators are an important tool to help local health officials, school administrators, and communities prepare, plan, and respond to COVID-19.  These indicators are the latest resource CDC has provided for schools during the pandemic, supplementing previously released guidance.

Rural Tech Project

Several weeks ago, I included an announcement for the Rural Tech Project in this update. The challenge invites schools to customize technology education programs for students and local needs. Up to five finalists will progress to Phase 2 and each receive an equal share of the $500,000 cash prize pool, on-the-ground-assistance, and access to virtual resources. One grand-prize winner will receive an additional $100,000.

Proposals are due by 5:59 p.m. ET on October 8. The Rural Tech Project has curated resources to help entrants develop comprehensive program proposals. The resources provide support around topics ranging from program design and delivery to engaging community stakeholders. To learn more about entering the challenge, see the recording of the information session and answers to frequently asked questions.

Memos to be released:

  • 2020-148:    Eighth Grade Unit of Study Certification Form Due June 11, 2021
  • 2020-149:    Call for Nominations: U.S. Presidential Scholars Program
  • 2020-150:    Chapter 20 Public Comment: Rules for the Pupil Transportation Component within the Education Resource Block Grant Model
  • 2020-151:    Roadtrip Nation Application Deadline October 4, 2020
  • 2020-152:    CARES Act Equitable Services Update

Superintendent Balow Announces $43.3 Million Federal Literacy Grant

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) has received the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant, which is awarded by the United States Department of Education (USED). Year one funding for Wyoming will be $8.6 million; with continued eligibility over the next five years, the total could reach $43.3 million.

“The most important milestone in every student’s education tenure is being proficient at reading by third grade,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “This grant is going to help Wyoming tremendously in ensuring that as many children as possible reach that milestone and continue to grow! I am very excited to begin this work.”

The USED grant will be used to create a comprehensive state literacy program to advance literacy skills — including pre-literacy skills, reading, and writing — for students from birth through grade 12, including students with limited English proficiency and students with disabilities.

All Wyoming school districts have the opportunity to benefit. Districts that have  struggled with literacy will have the opportunity to receive target training, coaching and technical assistance, and also be invited to apply for subgrants that will support the work at the district level.

“This grant really targets our state’s need to strengthen educators skills in teaching literacy and improving literacy outcomes for our students,” said WDE Chief Academic Officer Shelley Hamel. “For educators, this includes an understanding of the science of reading, the ability to apply these best practices in the classroom, confidence in identifying gaps in student skills and in knowing the next steps needed to correct these gaps.”

The funding from this grant will be used to develop a comprehensive state literacy plan by the Literacy Task Force; create a statewide system of Tiered Literacy Support; and invest in high needs districts and the early childhood sites that provide services to the district area families by subgranting 95% of the funds. The support provided through this grant brings together each stage from early childhood to adult education.

“Being a reader is too important to leave to chance,” said Tami Bebee-Schwartz, an independent educational consultant from Green River. “A child’s reading skills influence all other learning, their behavior, their self esteem, their life opportunities, and ultimately, their life choices. We have the opportunity to bridge the gap between the research and instructional practices with the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Grant – which means this is a phenomenal opportunity for Wyoming students and educators.”

The WDE plans to release a request for applications in January 2021.

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

Superintendent Balow to Announce Receipt of a $43.3 Million Federal Literacy Grant

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education will host a media conference at 11 a.m. Friday, September 18 to discuss the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant awarded by the United States Department of Education (USED). Year one funding for Wyoming will be $8.6 million. With continued eligibility over the next five years, the total could reach $43.3 million. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow and other WDE staff will be available to discuss the grant and answer questions.

The USED grant will be used to create a comprehensive state literacy program to advance literacy skills — including pre-literacy skills, reading, and writing — for students from birth through grade 12, including limited-English-proficient students and students with disabilities.

The grant will strengthen educator skills in teaching literacy and work to improve literacy outcomes for all students. Particular attention will be given to schools identified as high need due to lower reading scores on state assessments.

Media may join by the Zoom call here.

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

Register now for the Wyoming Education Summit

Dear Superintendents,

The Wyoming Education Summit (formerly S5S) will take place on September 21-22, 2020. Registration is open. Many sessions geared toward leaders, but all educators and education partners are welcome to register and attend. Topics include:

  • education leadership
  • high-quality instruction
  • virtual learning
  • social and emotional learning (SEL)
  • Wyoming Teacher of the Year award.

The agenda can be found here.

The theme of the conference is “Pursue Excellence Together” and it will be an honor to co-keynote with Wyoming Governor Gordon. Other presenters and speakers include:

  • Dana Winters from the Fred Rogers Institute will keynote the morning of September 21. Her presentation, “Affirming and Promoting Deep and Simple Moments” focuses on the whole child.
  • Nancy Frey will present “Learning at a Distance” based on her newest publication with renowned educators Douglas Fisher and John Hattie, The Distance Learning Playbook.

REGISTER HERE.

 

wYOeDsUMMIT

Memos to be released today:

  • 2020-145:    Professional Development Opportunity for Teachers
  • 2020-146:    Conventional Literacy for Students with Significant Intellectual Disabilities
  • 2020-147:    Educator Input for Science Performance Standards

 

Civics Education and Engagement Opportunities

Dear Superintendents,

Last week, Secretary DeVos penned “A Letter to America’s Parents” assuring them, “At the end of the day, we want everyone to have the choices to make the best decision for them. Some may choose to learn at home. Some may choose to return to their school. Some may choose to do a combination of both. Each of you needs to be able to choose what’s best for your own families because you know your children and their circumstance better than anyone. Your child. Your school. Your way.

jec20

The Wyoming Joint Education Committee met on Thursday to hear updates about K-12 and higher education.

CIVICS EDUCATION AND ENGAGEMENT OPPORTUNITIES

Women’s Suffrage

This year is the 150th anniversary of the women’s vote in Wyoming. The first vote by a woman was cast on September 6, 1870 by Louisa Swain in Laramie, WY. The event was commemorated with a full year of celebrations. Events culminate this week with the final stop by a semi-truck, wrapped in Louisa Swain information. The semi, driven by four female truckers, was driven across the country. There is great information about how Wyoming codified the women’s right to vote a full fifty years before the 19th Amendment was ratified at https://www.thelouisaswainfoundation.com/ . Students and others can follow the route of the truck (which made stops along I-70 to commemorate famous women) at https://www.firstwomanvoter.org/.

This is also the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which extended the right to vote to all women in America.  In celebration, First Lady Melania Trump opened an art exhibit outside the White House commissioned from the nation’s children (readout).  Some 450 artworks were submitted, with the First Lady, the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission, and the White House curator’s office choosing the winners.

Constitution Day

September 17 is Constitution Day/Citizenship Day, commemorating the September 17, 1787, signing of the U.S. Constitution. In recognition, Congress has mandated that every educational institution receiving federal funding hold an educational program about this seminal document. To assist students and educators in their studies, the National Archives and Records Administration offers key resources, including a free online version of its U.S. Constitution Workshop. Likewise, free online resources are available from the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the U.S. Census Bureau. 

ls

The Louisa Swain semi-truck made a stop at the Captiol. It was a thrill to speak about how she started a movement that led to the 19th Amendment.

Memos to be released on September 8, 2020:

2020-143:    CTE Thursday After Hours
2020-144:    Nominations Open for the Carol Mead Leaders in Literacy Award

WDE Receives Daniels Fund Grant For Wyoming Road Trip Project

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE), along with the Wyoming Workforce Development Council, will sponsor a Wyoming Road Trip project through Roadtrip Nation that will help empower Wyoming residents to identify their interests and explore pathways aligned with their unique aspirations and skills. The project will be funded through a Daniels Fund grant.

“Daniels Fund is a committed partner to Wyoming’s next generation,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “Their generous funding will enable us to share inspiring stories about planning for the future with students across the state.”

For 15 years, Roadtrip Nation (RTN) has made it their mission  to talk with professionals of every kind and ask the questions that no one is asking – honest questions about their struggles, successes, and how they figured out the age-old dilemma, “What should I do with my life?”

RTN does this through a multi-platform content strategy, including its long-running documentary series on public television that reaches up to 60 million households annually. This content is then post-produced for educational purposes via RTN’s Interview Archive, encompassing over 5,500 real-world career pathway stories distributed to 14 million students, a project-based curriculum, and a New York Times bestselling book.

To gather content for these outlets, every year RTN selects various industries and/or socially relevant issues – such as Cybersecurity, Veterans, Opportunity Youth – as primary themes for its Roadtrips. On these trips, selected young people hit the road to interview Leaders across America who relate with those same students’ social backgrounds and personal interests, empowering them to define their own roads in life. Simultaneously, people currently engaged in various career pathways can share their own career stories on Roadtrip Nation’s online storytelling platform – Share Your Road – providing a crowd-sourced opportunity for professionals to share their own “Roads” and significantly scaling the number of career pathways represented in RTN’s Interview Archive.

All Roadtrip and Share Your Road content is included in RTN’s rapidly growing Interview Archive which fuels educational resources that reach 14 million middle school, high school, and college students through the College Board, Hobsons-Naviance, and other RTN distribution partners. Approximately 175,000 students have participated in RTN’s project-based learning curriculum, resulting in a proven increase in self-efficacy rates and academic performance.

The Wyoming Roadtrip is scheduled to roll in April of 2021. In anticipation of the Wyoming Roadtrip, an application and selection process for the Roadtrippers will begin this fall.

The Daniels Fund, established by cable television pioneer Bill Daniels, is a private charitable foundation dedicated to making life better for the people of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming through its grants program, scholarship program, and ethics initiative. Visit DanielsFund.org to learn more.

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