All posts by tgabrukiewicz

WDE Announces Wyoming Child And Adult Care Food Program Sites

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education has announced the participating Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) organizations in Wyoming. The program reimburses participating organizations for nutritious meals and snacks served to children in child care centers and family day care homes. The program teaches good eating habits and assures that well-balanced, nourishing meals are served in these participating centers.

Organizations are reimbursed for meals provided to children who are up to 12 years of age. The same meals must be made available to all enrolled children at no separate charge regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age. There is no discrimination in the course of the meal service.

Centers are reimbursed for meals that are served at their center. Completing the income application helps the center receive meal reimbursement for the meals they serve. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), foster children, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and eligibility based on household income qualify for the meal claim reimbursements to the center as defined by the USDA Eligibility Guidelines.

For more information, contact Judy DiRienzo, Wyoming Department of Education Nutrition Section, at 307-777-6262 or



  • U.W. Early Care & Education Center
  • Developmental Preschool and Day Care
  • Laramie Educational Afterschool Facility, Developmental Preschool and Day Care
  • Laramie Child Development, Laramie Head Start
  • Basic Beginnings South/Aaron’s Place

Big Horn

  • Basin Head Start, Absaroka Head Start
  • Lovell Head Start Absaroka Head Start
  • Shooting Star Academy


  • Boys and Girls Club of Campbell County
  • Campbell County Head Start, WY Child and Family Development
  • Scotty’s Toy Box
  • Child Developmental Services
  • Little Guy’s and Gal’s Day Care – Wildwood


  • Rawlins Head Start, Carbon County Child Development
  • Saratoga Head Start, Carbon County Child Development


  • Douglas Child & Family Development, WY Child and Family Development
  • Glenrock Early Childhood Center, WY Child and Family Development
  • Glenrock Boys and Girls Club, Boys and Girls Club of Central Wyoming


  • Moorcroft Head Start, WY Child and Family Development


  • Lander Child Development Services, Child Development Services of Fremont County
  •  Riverton Child Development Services, Child Development Services of Fremont County
  • Ethete Head Start/Early Head Start, Eastern Shoshone & Northern Arapaho Birth to Five Head Start
  • Ft. Washakie Head Start, Eastern Shoshone & Northern Arapaho Birth to Five Head Start
  • Great Plains Head Start, Eastern Shoshone & Northern Arapaho Birth to Five Head Start
  • Smart-Start Quality Care
  • World Cares Inc./Small World Children’s Center
  • Lander Head Start, Absaroka Head Start
  • Riverton Head Start, Absaroka Head Start
  • Fremont CSD #2 – Little Ram’s Learning Center
  • Fremont CSD #14 – Wyoming Indian School Learning Lab
  • Riverton branch of Boys and Girls Club of Central WY


  • Lil’ Bits n Spurs Child Care
  • Torrington Learning Center, WY Child and Family Development
  • Lincoln Infant and Toddler Center, WY Child and Family Development
  • Stacey Houk Family Enrichment Center

Hot Springs

  •  Thermopolis Center, Absaroka Head Start


  • Buffalo Head Start, Absaroka Head Start
  • Buffalo Boys and Girls Club, Boys & Girls Club of Central Wyoming
  • Buffalo Children’s Center


  • F.E. Warren AFB Child Development Center
  • F.E. Warren Youth Center
  • Cheyenne Head Start – Wyoming Child and Family
  • Foundations Learning Academy
  • World of Wonder
  • Triumph Early Learning Center
  • Alphabet Academy
  • Alphabet Academy II
  • Alphabet Academy III
  • Alphabet Academy IV
  • Laramie County CSD #1:
  • Henderson Elementary – Supper
  • Sunrise Elementary – Supper
  • Johnson Junior High – Supper
  • South High School – Supper
  • Afflerbach Elementary-Supper
  • Arp Elementary-Supper
  • Alta Vista Elementary-Supper
  • Baggs Elementary-Supper
  • Rossman Elementary-Supper
  • Kiddie Kollege
  • Cheyenne Family YMCA AT Risk
  • Cheyenne Family Child Care
  • Boys and Girls Club of Cheyenne, At Risk


  • The Playroom Learning Center, Afton, Alpine, Thayne
  • Kemmerer Child Development Center, Lincoln Uinta Child Development Association (LUCDA)
  • Afton Child Development Center, LUCDA
  • Thayne Child Development Center, LUCDA
  • Alpine Child Development Center, LUCDA


  • Natrona County School District #1, Bar Nunn, Cottonwood, Evansville, Journey Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, Midwest- (PK and Midwest School Supper), Pathways Innovation Center and Sagewood Elementary
  • Casper College, Inga Thorson Early Childhood Learning Center
  • Mountain Ridge Akidemy
  • Sunshine Corner Day Care
  • Learning Junction Children’s Center
  • Natrona County Head Start/Home Start, WY Child and Family Development
  • Natrona County Early Head Start, WY Child and Family Development
  • Casper Early Childhood Center, WY Child and Family Development
  • Mills – Wyoming Child and Family
  • Greater Casper Boys and Girls Club, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming
  • Mills Boys and Girls Club, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming
  • Lincoln Branch Boys and Girls Club, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming
  • Paradise Valley Boys and Girls Club, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming
  • Verda James, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming
  • Busy Bumblebees Child Care Center
  • Neighborhood Child Caring Center
  • Neighborhood Child Learning Center
  • Kids Campus, Casper Housing Authority
  • Wildwood Child and Adult Care Food Program (Sponsor of home daycares throughout the state)


  •  Lusk Early Childhood Center, WY Child and Family Development


  • The Learning Garden
  • Winsor Castle Daycare & Preschool
  • Cody Head Start, Absaroka Head Start
  • Powell Head Start, Absaroka Head Start
  • A Little Paradise
  • The Crane Academy
  • True North Academy


  • Platte County Day Care/Kid’s Kastle
  • Wheatland Early Childhood Center, Wyoming Child and Family Development
  • Guernsey Early Childhood Center, Wyoming Child and Family Development


  • Tongue River Child’s Place
  • Children’s Center
  • Sheridan Head Start, Absaroka Head Start
  • Harmony Child Care Center


  • Children’s Discovery Center
  • The REAL Center/The Redstone Early Active Learning Center


  • Green River Head Start, Sweetwater County Head Start
  • Rock Springs Head Start, Sweetwater County Head Start


  • The Children’s Learning Center – Head Start/Early Head Start Mercill Site and Rafter J Site


  • Children’s Learning Foundation, Evanston Child Development Center
  • Bridger Valley Child Development Center, Mountain View, LUCDA
  • Children’s Learning Foundation, Evanston Child Development Association
  • Evanston Child Development Center, Evanston Child Development Association
  • Lil’ Rascals Academy


  • Worland Head Start, Abasorka Head Start


  • Newcastle Child Development Center, Weston County Child Development Center
  • Upton Child Development Center, Weston County Child Development Center
  • Little One’s Family Child Care

Resources, Training, Links & Forms

All of the necessary program documents can now be found on the WDE’s CNP Application and Claim website. You will find this information under Applications, then Download Forms.

– END –

Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director

WDE & PTSB Launch Teacher Retention & Recruitment Taskforce with Call for Members

CHEYENNE – As a follow-up to the establishment of the Wyoming Teacher Apprenticeship last fall, the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) and the Wyoming Professional Teaching Standards Board (PTSB) will turn its attention to the creation of a Teacher 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.

From January 9-20, 2023, the WDE and PTSB will begin accepting applications for stakeholders to participate here. The task force will be composed of up to three district superintendents, three principals, 10 teachers, one parent, one teacher who has left the profession, one personnel director, one school counselor, and one post-secondary representative.

Those applying will need to be available for an initial in-person meeting on Saturday, February 11, 2023, in Casper, followed by monthly meetings held in-person on the second Saturday of the month through May. Additional virtual meetings will be scheduled as needed. Applicants will be notified of their selection status by February 1, 2023.


Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director

Superintendent Degenfelder – An Introduction

Happy New Year! I am very excited to work with you in 2023, and beyond. I ran to be State Superintendent because I am a product of Wyoming public schools, a lifelong Wyomingite, and as such have a deeply held passion for ensuring our students are provided every opportunity to build a successful future right here in Wyoming.

Over the course of the past year, I had the opportunity to travel all across the state, meeting with tens of thousands of Wyoming voters and discussing the education issues important to them.

By the end of the campaign, three topics rose to the top of collective concerns: 1) parental empowerment and transparency; 2) industry partnership and preparing students for successful jobs; and 3) getting government out of the way of the classroom. My goal will be to make progress in addressing these concerns with strategic initiatives, working with education stakeholders like you. We will build trust with families, businesses, and school districts by working collaboratively toward solutions to these concerns.

I am also very excited to announce my leadership team. With decades of experience in education, from the classroom to the state department, the team is incredibly experienced and talented. As such, we have a great opportunity to immediately move on our strategic initiatives. The leadership team includes:

  • Dicky Shanor, Chief of Staff.
  • Trent Carroll, Chief Operations Officer.
  • Shelley Hamel, Chief Academics Officer.
  • Wanda Maloney, Chief Policy Officer.
  • Linda Finnerty, Communications Director.

Thank you for your passion for education and all you do in your local communities. Together, we will improve educational opportunities and outcomes for students. I look forward to working with each of you.

Monday memos:



Megan Degenfelder
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Vision and Focus

Dear Superintendents,

With only a couple of Updates left to go before this administration bows out and the new administration assumes the reins, a re-cap of some of the initiative priorities pursued over the past year may be helpful. The vision and focus of each not only dovetail, but will hopefully be sustained by Wyoming’s overall educational vision.

Vision & Focus

The Wyoming Teacher’s Apprenticeship – Dubbed the “Cadillac of Teacher Apprenticeship programs,” Dr. Laurel Ballard (WDE), Brendan O’Connor (PTSB) and their team can never get enough credit for the feat they pulled off in getting this initiative launched in response to the teacher shortage crisis. As we continue to pilot this in three districts throughout the balance of this school year (Teton County #1, Fremont County #24 and Laramie County #1), working through some of the funding challenges, we are very optimistic the WTA is poised to move forward and flourish in our schools.

Literacy Efforts – Accomplished early readers is what we want, and structured literacy through the phonetic approach is how we get there. To that end, the wind that spreads the fire brings us a number of promising programs that will undoubtedly improve early  literacy skills across the state. For example, a number of districts have expressed interest in leveraging an intervention program endorsed by Dr. William Bennett (a man not given to endorsements). The WDE continues to work with local school districts to ensure that our children acquire the literacy skills they need to be successful and engaged Americans.

The Taiwanese Student & Teacher Exchange – The official signing of the Memorandum of Understanding recently in Taipei, Taiwan, combined with the emerging sistership of two of our Wyoming schools (Black Butte High School and Campbell County High School) with two Taiwanese schools, paves the path to a rich educational and cultural exchange between the teachers and students of Wyoming and Taiwan. Moreover, with the WDE’s Chief Policy Officer Wanda Maloney as the point person, the sky will be the limit regarding this budding and exciting new partnership.

The Tourism-Hospitality Project – Because tourism/hospitality is the second biggest industry in Wyoming, a well-built bridge from our schools to the training and careers it can provide is absolutely critical. Although still in the seminal discussion stages, with WDE CTE Supervisor Dr. Michelle Aldrich at the helm, along with WDE Communications Director Linda Finnerty’s ever-guiding hand and Executive Director of the Wyoming Hospitality and Travel Coalition Chris Brown’s inspiring vision, the commitment remains very high in terms of long-term continuance and sustainability once this effort gets fully launched.

In the Spotlight

Speaking of Linda Finnerty, since day one, Linda has thoughtfully and candidly advocated for the best interests of the agency. She has taken leadership roles in numerous initiatives designed to improve outcomes for teachers, students and parents. She has built and maintained positive professional relationships within the WDE, as well as with external stakeholders including legislators and economic development groups. Linda is creative, articulate and she has a passion for Wyoming and the WDE!

Linda has been particularly instrumental throughout the transitions. Last winter, when Superintendent Jillian Balow and Chief of Staff Dicky Shanor left for Virginia, Linda rolled up her sleeves and helped the agency stay focused. As Deputy Superintendent Chad Auer and I assumed our roles in February, Linda helped us get off the ground. Now, as the WDE undergoes yet another transition, Linda is stepping up to ensure the process is successful and honorable.

Linda, you are ‘In the Spotlight’ for everything that you have done for our state and for the WDE!

Mark Your Calendars

The Nomination Drive for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (#PAEMST) is happening! Do you know a 7–12th grade STEM teacher in Wyoming whose impact goes beyond the classroom? Help us celebrate the future of STEM education by nominating a teacher today. Read more here.

Monday memos:

There are no memos this week.



Partnering with Taiwan

As we continue the transition to a new administration, we have been conducting a series of orientation meetings with our new Superintendent-Elect, Megan Degenfelder, related to the duties and responsibilities of the office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and all things WDE.

We remain committed to a smooth transition, as well as Superintendent Degenfelder’s success for the ultimate good of the department and our Wyoming school districts. Feel free to reach out to Megan and offer her a warm welcome, as she prepares to assume the role of this very important and difficult position.

Vision & Focus

Vision is best cultivated and sustained in a contextual framework, and the vision of American education, with deep historical roots in the arts and sciences, boasts not only an impressive intellectual legacy but also an enduring educational model. Though human nature will always want to reinvent the wheel, only short memories propel us to actually do so. Because, indisputably, the arts and the sciences of the Western education tradition are the two rails that have kept the train on the track, and for good reason.

While a contemporary familiarity with both rails typically involves little more than the Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science degrees that we may have earned in college, a look behind the curtain really does provide the context and inspiration for an incredibly visionary academic legacy.

When most of us nowadays hear the word “art,” we think of a painting or sculpture, with brush or chisel nearby. But the backdrop of history gives us a more expansive definition. Since art comes from the Latin word ars, the arts were closer to what we would now call a skill or craft. So it was not surprising to hear about how soldiers were learning the art of war or doctors the art of healing. An art, then, was a craft that you honed, an ability you developed or a skill you mastered.

In like manner, the term “science” is now linked to what we know as the natural sciences (biology, chemistry, physics). But the Latin root word again sheds light: Scire means “to know or understand” and scientia means knowledge. So science was simply an organized body of knowledge.  In that context, history and literature were as much a science as astronomy was.

This distinction was, and is, enormously significant, and in terms of vision and focus, it gave our Western model of education a formidable substance and balance that can’t be beat to this day.

Partnering with Taiwan

A recent  trip to Taiwan on behalf of the WDE yielded not only a consequential signing ceremony for a Memorandum of Understanding that sealed the deal between Taiwan and Wyoming regarding a robust future Teacher/Student Exchange, but also an amazing look behind-the-scenes at the educational, cultural and geopolitical dynamics of a very impressive country and people.

Determined to make English the primary language for their students and their future, the Taiwanese educational leadership is extremely focused, motivated and excited about their schools forming partnerships with our Wyoming schools. The stage is set, therefore, for some wonderful student and teacher exchanges for both parties that will, no doubt, enrich the school systems and lives of both peoples.


In the Spotlight

Jessica Kavitz’s young students rarely sit still — and that’s by design. Kavitz, who teaches kindergarten at Meadowlark Elementary in Buffalo, knows that movement engages students’ brains and helps them process and retain information. She borrows basketballs and other sports equipment from the school gym to coordinate with books the class is reading and encourages students to hop, leap, crawl and do push-ups as they move through learning stations. Interspersing physical activities like cup-stacking and agility ladders with reading, writing and math tasks helps Kavitz “wake up” her young learners’ brains as they absorb and master new skills. Kavitz takes a project-based approach that includes trips to the park and other local attractions, often on foot.

For all of her amazing work, Jessica was chosen as this year’s Wyoming recipient of the Milken Educator Award, which comes with a $25,000 cash prize. Kavitz is among up to 40 elementary educators across the nation who will receive the Milken Educator Award during the 2022-23 school year, and the first recipient from Johnson County School District #1 in the history of the award. For that, Jessica Kavitz is ‘In the Spotlight’ this week.

Read more here.

Mark Your Calendars

Join the WDE for the second virtual session in its Wellness Speaker Series, with presenter Shaundalyn Elliott discussing “Self-Care for Educators” from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on December 7, 2022. This two-hour interactive presentation will highlight practical solutions to cope with stressors that surface throughout the school day, as well as outside of the classroom. Since this session will be interactive, participants should bring a pen/pencil and paper for notes. Register here.

Monday memos:




Milken Educator Awards Come to Wyoming, Surprising One Deserving Buffalo Educator with $25,000

Buffalo — Kindergarten is a big transition, but for Jessica Kavitz’s students at Meadowlark Elementary School, she eases them into the school year with movement-as-learning, colorful and creative exercises to engage their young minds, and social-emotional learning tools to build confidence. Kavitz (KAY-vitz) is a local leader, following in the footsteps of her mother who was an educator in Gillette for nearly three decades. At a schoolwide assembly today, Kavitz was honored for her work in and out of the classroom, becoming the district’s first recipient of the Milken Educator Award, often hailed as the “Oscar of Teaching.”

Milken Educator Awards Senior Program Director Greg Gallagher was joined by Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Brian Schroeder to present Kavitz with the prestigious recognition, including an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize to be used however she likes.

Kavitz is among up to 40 elementary educators across the nation who will receive the Milken Educator Award during the 2022-2023 school year, and the first recipient from Johnson County School District #1 in the history of the Award. On top of today’s celebration, Kavitz will have the opportunity to join the national Milken Educator Network of more than 2,900 exceptional K-12 educators and leaders across the country. Honorees receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles in April 2023.

“Jessica Kavitz is the kind of teacher you hope your children have for their first year of school – compassionate, thoughtful and engaging. Jessica’s classroom is a nonstop learning hub that prepares students well for their academic journeys,” said Gallagher. “Outstanding educators have the potential to positively influence generations of students, and it is especially meaningful when parents inspire their children to pursue the adventure of teaching. We are thrilled to honor Jessica as a second-generation educator making an impact on the lives of so many young students in the Buffalo community.”

Celebrating its 35th anniversary, the Milken Educator Awards inspire and uplift with the unique stories of educators making a profound difference for students, colleagues and communities. The specific states and schools on this year’s winners’ list remain a closely guarded secret until each Award is announced.

“Jessica is a shining star among Wyoming’s excellent teachers. She is creative, dedicated and genuinely believes in her students. Congratulations to Jessica – Wyoming is very proud of you!” said Chad Auer, Wyoming’s deputy superintendent of public instruction.

Since the initiative’s inception, more than $140 million in funding, including more than $73 million in individual Awards, has been devoted to the overall Milken Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients’ careers.

Wyoming Superintendent-Elect of Public Instruction Megan Degenfelder also shared her congratulations for Kavitz today, saying, “Jessica Kavitz is a perfect example of the outstanding educators we have throughout Wyoming. Her attention to her students’ growth and unique learning styles is exceptional. Congratulations, Jessica.”


Wyoming’s Fall K-12 Enrollment Decreased in 2022

CHEYENNE – Overall enrollment in Wyoming’s schools dropped by 352 students for the 2022-23 school year. In a review of the data, 28 school districts had a dip in enrollment, 19 increased in size, and one district had no change.

There are five statewide virtual education programs in Wyoming. Three of those decreased in size (Big Horn #1, Niobrara #1, and Sweetwater #1), most likely because students returned to their brick-and-mortar school after the COVID-19 pandemic in-person learning changes. Sheridan #1 saw an increase of 31 students or a three percent change, while Weston #7 increased by 54%, going from 471 students to 725 due to their virtual program.

This data was gathered from all school districts throughout the state in a snapshot performed on October 1, 2022. The agency does not collect numbers of students enrolled in home or private school environments

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director

Rest & Recharge

Dear Superintendents,

I hope you were all able to spend time with family and friends over the Thanksgiving Day long weekend. There is no better way to recharge your batteries for the important work you return to today. The WDE is thankful for you and your teams. You all hold the future of Wyoming’s youth in your capable hands.

Mark You Calendars – Today

The WDE is updating the statewide Digital Learning Plan. The WDE, with assistance from Marzano Research, will be hosting listening sessions to learn more from educators, parents, students, and business and community members about how to provide equal access to educational instruction and information.

Join the next virtual listening session from 4:30-5:30 p.m. TODAY. Please share this information with staff and stakeholders.

Register here.

Monday memos:




On the Road, In the Field

Dear Superintendents,

With the general election now behind us, we wish to congratulate and welcome Megan Degenfelder as the new State Superintendent of Public Instruction. We want to again reiterate that we will do everything we can to ensure a smooth and seamless leadership transition within the Wyoming Department of Education for both Megan and the WDE staff.

The transition period will take place through November and December, leading up to the swearing-in ceremony on January 2. It will include a series of orientation meetings with myself, my deputy superintendent, the department chiefs and division directors, as well as an all-staff meeting on December 9.The superintendent-elect will also have access, like all new incoming elected officials, to a transition team out of the A&I office that will deal with all the other details and aspects of the process.

Vision & Focus 

Because of the law of increasing entropy, mission drift is inevitable if the focus becomes foggy from a vision that has become blurred. For leaders of educational entities, therefore, constant clarity is essential.

For example, take the mission of “teaching thinking:” viewing this challenge in the critical thinking domain alone can unwittingly blur the vision which can eventually fog the focus. This happens when the logic piece is missed or by-passed, and it can happen in no small measure.

Since critical thinking does not necessarily include logical thought, it does not necessarily produce the same. But logical thought always includes critical thinking and, therefore, always produces the same. Therefore, we can’t fulfill education’s ultimate mission (teaching thinking) without teaching logic (the systematic rules of thinking). It’s only logical!

Other obvious benefits to the life of the mind notwithstanding, because logic (as both a content area as well as a skill) increases clarity, it remains one of the most powerful tools in an educator’s arsenal for not only equipping students for life, but also helping students break out of some of those inevitable youth-based mind blinds, to which the undeveloped mind is so vulnerable.

On the Road, In the Field

“On the road” this week means in the air and “in the field” means overseas travel. By the time this update lands in your laptops, I will have landed in Taipei, Taiwan to represent both the state and schools of Wyoming on a trip that will give official credence to the newly unfolding educational and cultural relationship between Taiwan and Wyoming.

For the long-range purpose of firming up and further developing the prospects of student and teacher exchanges between their great country and our great state, Taiwan has graciously offered to host and fund this entire opportunity. With two of our Wyoming schools already committed to this program (Black Butte Alternative High School in Rock Springs and Campbell County High School in Gillette), “the sky is the limit” as to where this could go for future student and teacher exchanges.

This of course will not only be an incredible experience, but also a tremendous honor, and I will certainly do my best to represent Wyoming well. Armed with many Wyoming gifts to share (thanks to Penny!), the intent will be to not only solidify an official educational exchange, but also to build good will and reinforce the long-standing tradition of mutual admiration between the Taiwanese and American people.

In the Spotlight

Two years ago, the Wyoming State Board of Education (SBE) launched a project called the Profile of a Graduate. The goal was to understand what our Wyoming high school students needed to know to move into the world after graduation, whether they chose college, career or the military. Over the course of two phases of work focused on collecting insights and feedback from stakeholders across the state (including parents, students, teachers, administration, industry, business, community members, elected officials, higher education, and more), a dedicated team working with the board presented their findings.

At the SBE’s August meeting, the board unanimously approved the final Profile of a Graduate. The website also provides a bit of a look into how the process was executed. Having the opportunity to join the SBE during my tenure as Superintendent, a well-earned and well-deserved round of applause should be given to this very invested board and their supporting team for the work they have accomplished in this regard. For this they are all ‘In the Spotlight’ this week. Congratulations, Ryan Fuhrman and fellow SBE members!

Mark Your Calendars

Title 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA), addresses students participating in alternate assessments aligned with alternate academic achievement standards (AA-AAAS) of the statewide assessment system. Each state must submit a waiver request to the U.S. Department of Education if it predicts exceeding 1.0 percent participation in the AA-AAAS in any subject.

After reviewing the 2021-22 assessment participation data, the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) has determined that participation in WY-ALT ELA, Math in grades 3-10 and WY-ALT Science in grades 4, 8, and 10 may be over 1% of the total number of students assessed in that subject area for the 2022-23 school year. Pursuant to Code of Federal Regulations, Title 34 (34 CFR), Section 200.6(c)(4), the WDE is requesting a federal waiver for exceeding the 1% threshold on AA-AAAS participation in the WY-ALT ELA, Math, and Science.

The WDE seeks public comment on the One Percent Participation Waiver Request for the Alternate ELA, Math, and Science Assessment. Public comment may be submitted online, or via mail, by 11:59 p.m. on November 15, 2022. All public comment will be recorded verbatim, including the submitter’s name and city of residence, on the Secretary of State website as part of the public comment process.

For more information, contact Cat Palmer, Assessment Supervisor, at 307-777-8568 or

Monday memos:



Purple Star Schools

Dear Superintendents,

Knowledge has to do with the facts while wisdom has to do with the truth. In a world that has convinced so many there is only your truth and my truth – not the truth – wisdom often gets boxed out and short-changed. But historically, it was a major part of the educational process. The reason was because the ancients were convinced and convicted that knowledge tends to puff people up, while wisdom has the opposite effect.To pursue one without the other, then, has a major downside. To pursue both is to not only inform the mind (via facts & data) but also deepen it (via understanding & discernment). The latter of course is the key to weakening those deceptive student “mind blinds” while strengthening an expansive student vision.

Vision & Focus

Because just like people (just like our students), mind blinds come in all shapes and sizes: mental, emotional, psychological, spiritual, social, cultural, political and philosophical – so many varieties and a plethora of examples.

Moreover, no age group is immune.  You have childhood mind blinds (“If I’m naughty, my parents won’t love me …” or “It was my fault my parents divorced.”), adolescent mind blinds (“My identity is tied to my clothes, my popularity, my looks, my grades, my feelings …”), and adult mind blinds  (“I must make lots of money or I’m not successful!”).

Mind blinds are the lies we have come to believe as true, whether passed down by family, society, toxic brands of religion or misguided models of education.  They are as seductive as they are pervasive; though a trap, they appear to be the door to freedom.

The good news is, while a liberal arts education is not humanity’s ultimate savior, it can play an enormously powerful role in helping our students evaluate and then break free from these formidable mental strongholds – a process that begins at home with wise parents and at school with conscientious teachers.  The link between both of course is the literacy legacy, beginning first and foremost with the linguistic layer, and then continuing with all aspects of both cultural and financial literacy as well.

Primary Priority

Regarding that first layer, as the specter of a structured linguistic literacy movement in this nation continues to rise, may it serve to fortify our own commitment to literacy excellence as the foundation of everything we do in our schools.

In that vein, crystal clear clarity will be championed through the three core pieces of a stellar literacy paradigm: (1) training literacy teachers in the most effective model, (2) teaching literacy in the most effective way, and (3) testing student literacy with the most effective assessments.  Accordingly, our resolve for a structured literacy model will grow exponentially and stand existentially as Wyoming’s primary educational priority.

Wyoming Teacher Apprenticeship

This week, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) highlighted the WTA in its national update. The CCSSO is the organization of officials leading departments of education nationwide.

Earlier this week the WTA also received accolades from the U.S. Department of Labor. This is the feedback received by Michael Broad, US DOL Office of Apprenticeship in Cheyenne:

“I was contacted by Mike Qualter, Deputy Administrator with the Office of Apprenticeship, who commented on the “awesome” program! This is the first time I have received comments on a great program from anyone in D.C.”

“I was also contacted by the Colorado State Director, asking questions regarding the program. She thought this was the best K-12 Registered Apprenticeship written. She will take the information to her interested school districts.”


In the Spotlight

With more than 1.1 million military-connected students attending schools, issues of school transition are a high priority for their families. The Wyoming Purple Star School Program recognizes the efforts of Wyoming K-12 schools that are committed and supportive of military students and families 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.

In that spirit, we would like to congratulate and recognize Cheyenne’s Freedom Elementary and McCormick Junior High School (Laramie County School District #1) for being the first two Wyoming Schools to be awarded with the Purple Star Award – putting both schools – and Laramie #1 – ‘In the Spotlight.’

(Additional information about the Wyoming Purple Star Program, and school application, can be found here.)

Mark Your Calendars

Wyoming Digital Learning Plan Listening Sessions Set

We are seeking your feedback with the help of Marzano Research on the Wyoming Digital Learning Plan. We are going on a listening tour so you can have your thoughts heard. Your first opportunity will be from 4:50-5:30 p.m. on November 14 in Rock Springs at Sweetwater #1’s Central Administration Boardroom, 3550 Foothill Blvd. in Rock Springs, then other locations across the state.


Can’t make one of these dates? No worries! We are having a virtual session via Zoom from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on November 10, 2022; register here. After registering, participants will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

You can find out more on the WDE’s DLP website.

But wait, there’s more…


CodeHS is partnering with the WDE to host free, in-depth professional development cohorts to prepare Wyoming K-12 teachers to take the Praxis Computer Science Exam. The course is delivered within a 14-week cohort model where teachers work through the course at the same pace on the CodeHS platform. Teachers are provided:

  • 1:1 Support
  • Live Lessons
  • Exam Prep
  • Networking Opportunities

After completing the course, teachers will also receive a $200 stipend.

Upcoming Wyoming Praxis Prep Courses: February 2-May 18 on Thursdays starting at 4 p.m.

To be eligible to register, you should be a Wyoming K-12 public school teacher preparing to add a computer science endorsement to your teaching license. Learn more about the technical requirements here and register here.

Monday memos: