All posts by tgabrukiewicz

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

Civics and Cultural Opportunities in September

Dear Superintendents,

Civics and Cultural Opportunities in September:

  • September 11 is the 20th anniversary of 9/11 when a coordinated terrorist attack unfolded on American soil. Here are several resources for classrooms:

PBS 9/11 Anniversary in the Classroom 

9/11 Museum

  • National Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15-October 15 and we celebrate the contributions, diverse cultures, and extensive histories of the American Latino community.

National Hispanic Heritage Month Organization

  • September 17 is U.S. Constitution Day – the day that the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1787. In recognition, Congress has mandated that every educational institution receiving federal funding hold an educational program about this seminal document. Here are a just a few resources available:

National Archives and Records Administration and its free version of the U.S. Constitution Workshop

Library of Congress

National Endowment for the Humanities

U.S. Census Bureau

The Constitution Center

Jack Miller Center, Constitution Day 2021

*The resource lists are not exhaustive and, rather, are included to spark awareness and further research. Neither the Wyoming Department of Education, nor I, mandate, recommend, or fully vet all resources listed.*

There are five memos this week – here are a few highlights:

  • Wyoming’s Judicial Learning Center is located in the Wyoming Supreme Court building and open to the public. Prior to COVID-19 students were frequenting the Center in growing numbers (and they should – it is AMAZING!) At the Center, interactive learning brings the judicial branch of government to life. Prior to or in lieu of an in-person visit, there are many resources at https://jlc.wyo.gov/. All activities are aligned to Wyoming’s Social Studies content and performance standards. 

jlc

“You Be the Judge” is one of the exhibits at the Judicial Learning Center and allows students to examine evidence and decide the verdict of a case.

OTHER MEMOS:

  • Wyoming did not participate in Cards for the Military Project in 2020 but we are eager to pick the project up again this year. I would love to visit your school to pick up cards personally (and I am working on bringing a special guest with me).
  • A new FAFSA campaign geared toward students and families is underway.
  • There are also memos about WAVES training and a cyber challenge for students round out the memos – take a look.

fafsa

Sneak peak at the new FAFSA campaign here.

 

FEDERAL COVID RESOURCES *Please Note: Schools and states that did not have in-person instruction during the 2020-2021 schoolyear are the primary audience for several resources below.*


Memos to be released today:

Blue Balow Signature

Summer Food Service Program Delivers Nearly One Million Meals to Wyoming Youth

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Summer Food Service program for kids, offered through the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE), served nearly one million meals to Wyoming children and teens in 2021.

“We are proud to have been able to keep thousands of Wyoming youth fed from border to border this summer,” said Tamra Jackson, Child Nutrition Programs State Director with the WDE. “We are so thankful for the people who are on the front lines of this program: the people who deliver the breakfasts and lunches to our youth.”

In total, 434,535 breakfasts and 545,615 lunches have been served through the summer program, for a total of 980,150 meals.

Youth do not have to register or call ahead to receive meals and no questions are asked regarding eligibility for the program.

“Our goal is to get the food to youth who need it, not to concern ourselves with each families’ specific situation,” said Jackson.

Wyoming residents interested in the program for next summer should call 211 for meal service details in their area. For more information about the program, call Amanda Andersen with the WDE at (307) 777-7168.

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.

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This institution is an equal opportunity provider. In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits.  Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.  Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: How to File a Complaint, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by: Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 1400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; Fax: (202) 690-7442; or Email: program.intake@usda.gov.

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

STEM Day Opportunity for Students

Dear Superintendents,

There is still time for classes (middle and high) from across Wyoming to plan to attend STEM Day in conjunction with the Wild West Air Show in Cheyenne. September 10 is STEM Day. For more information please contact Lt. Maxwell McMillan at: maxwell.mcmillan.1@us.af.mil

Results from the 2021 administration of the Wyoming Test of Proficiency and Progress (WY-TOPP) were released on Tuesday. Here is the media release and links to data.

The work of the Capitol Interpretative Exhibits and Wayfinding Subcommittee is underway. As the co-chairman of the committee (alongside Senator Bill Landen), I am very excited to provide students (and visitors of all ages) with an educational and hands-on experience at Wyoming’s Capitol. Stay tuned.

The Wyoming Education Summit will be held virtually on September 21-22. We have a great line-up of speakers and breakouts presenting under the theme of “Pursuing Excellence Together.” Here is a link to additional information.

wes


FEDERAL UPDATES

  • The U.S. Department of Education’s (USED) Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) sent a letter to state and local partners reiterating a shared commitment to ensure children with disabilities and their families have successful early intervention and educational experiences in the 2021–2022 school year. The letter outlines a series of question and answers (Q&As) as children return to in-person learning.
  • Public Comment on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Science Assessment Framework will be accepted through September 30. To learn more, click here.
  • On Thursday, Sept. 9, Understood, with the American Academy of Pediatrics, UnidosUS, and 2021 National Teacher of the Year Juliana Urtubey, will facilitate conversations to help parents and teachers move forward in the next school year together. The free event will be live-streamed via Understood’s YouTube channel and syndicated across its Facebook page. Learn more and register here.

Five Memos to be released today:

Blue Balow Signature

Superintendent Balow Mourns Death of U.S. Marine from Jackson

CHEYENNE – Upon learning that Rylee McCollum, a 2019 graduate of Jackson Hole High School, was one of the U.S. Marines killed in Afghanistan on August 26, 2021, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow released the following statement:

“Saying that I am grateful for Rylee’s service to our country does not begin to encapsulate the grief and sadness I feel today as a mother and as an American. My heart and prayers are with Rylee’s family, friends, and the entire Jackson community.

“We will find many ways to honor Rylee for this ultimate and untimely sacrifice in the coming months and years – but for now, my arms are wrapped around Rylee’s loved ones from afar and I pray they find some comfort.”

 

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