Category Archives: News Releases

News releases from the Wyoming Department of Education

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

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

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

The WDE Seeks Public Input on the Proposed Wyoming Computer Science Performance Standards

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) will host two virtual meetings to collect public input on the proposed 2020 Computer Science Performance Standards. Previously, all Performance Level Descriptors (PLDs) were deemed the Performance Standards to measure student proficiency.

Attendees will sign in through the Zoom online platform and will remain in a “waiting room” until the meeting begins promptly at noon and 6 p.m. on August 25 respectively. Meeting details are below.

August 25, 2020
Noon-2 p.m.
Join the Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/92919364903
Meeting ID: 929 1936 4903
Dial In: +1 669 900 6833 US

August 25, 2020
6-8 p.m.
Join the Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/94666353183
Meeting ID: 946 6635 3183
Dial in: +1 669 900 6833 US

The State Board of Education (SBE) has asked the Computer Science Standards Review Committee to identify a subset of PLDs to be the Performance Standards, on which students will be assessed through the District Assessment System.

The Content Standards were adopted on Feb. 4, 2020. The Computer Science Content Standards are the content and skills students are expected to know and be able to do by the end-of-the gradeband.

Performance Standards are the standards all students are expected to learn and be assessed on through the district assessment system by the end-of-the grade-band. They specify the specific degree of understanding or demonstration of the knowledge and/or skill for a particular content standard. As such, it employs clear action verbs and describes “how good is good enough.” Districts are expected to give students multiple opportunities to demonstrate proficiency on the Performance Standards and provide appropriate supports for student success.

Once adopted, the Performance Standards will accompany the previously adopted 2019 Wyoming Computer Science Content Standards. Performance Standards will be tied to the Content Standards on which districts are expected to assess all students through the district assessment system. The input collected on the Performance Standards will be shared with the SBE for its consideration for adoption.

Public input on the proposed Performance Standards is open through 11:59 p.m. on August 27, 2020. In addition to the online public meetings, comments can be submitted online or mailed to:

Wyoming Department of Education
Attn: Barb Marquer
122 West 25th Street, Suite E200
Cheyenne, WY 82002

For more information, contact Barb Marquer, Standards Team Supervisor, at 307-777-5506 or barb.marquer@wyo.gov.

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

Two Wyoming Teachers Receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

CHEYENNE – Two Wyoming educators – Aimee Kay and Jennifer Kelley – have received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). President Donald J. Trump made the announcement of the 2019 winners on Monday.

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.

“The PAEMST award is an honor that has already connected me with a network of exceptional teachers around our state who are willing to share ideas and collaborate, inspiring my continued growth,” said Kay, a 7-8 grade science teacher at Thermopolis Middle School. “I look forward to connecting with STEM teachers nationally as well. It has validated my efforts as I prepare the next generation of scientists and problem solvers to make the world a better place. Through it, I have also gained more confidence in my methods and a rejuvenated sense of purpose and passion.”

“This award inspires and encourages me to continue on my amazing journey as an educator,” said Kelly, who teaches Algebra, AP Calculus AB, and AP Calculus BC at Jackson Hole High School and a concurrent enrollment class through Central Wyoming College. “ It recognizes my desire to provide the best opportunities for all students to advance their knowledge and excitement in mathematics. It recognizes my desire to provide the best opportunities for all students to advance their knowledge and excitement in mathematics. Being able to help young adults figure out how to self-advocate and become lifelong learners is very rewarding. I am fortunate to work with incredible students and colleagues who continue to motivate me to strive for excellence.”

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.

“Aimee and Jennifer set the gold standard when it comes to teaching math and science to students,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “It is befitting that they are being recognized for this prestigious honor.”

The awardees come from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools, and schools in four U.S. territories.Each awardee will receive a certificate signed by President Trump and a $10,000 award from NSF. Awardees will also travel to Washington, D.C., for an awards ceremony at a future date.

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

WDE Seeks Public Comment on Hathaway Scholarship Program Rules

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) seeks public comment on proposed revisions to Chapter 38 rules regarding the Hathaway Scholarship Program.

During the 2020 Legislative Session, SEA0022 brought revisions to the Hathaway Need-Based Scholarship, which limits the amount of need-based scholarships for graduate students. The proposed changes to Chapter 38 reflect these new provisions.

Changes have also been made to allow “superscoring,” or the average of highest individual scores on college entrance exams such as the ACT.

The public comment period for Chapter 38 rules will close at 11:59 p.m. on September 15, 2020.

Comments can be submitted online or mailed to:

Wyoming Department of Education
Attn: Madison Lacey
122 West 25th Street, Suite E200
Cheyenne, WY 82002

All public comments will be recorded verbatim, including the submitter’s name and city of residence, on the Secretary of State website as part of the rules promulgation process.

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

State Agencies Collaborate to Provide 500,000 Face Coverings to School Districts

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Office of Homeland Security (WOHS), the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH), and the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) have announced a joint effort to deliver 500,000 face coverings to school districts around the state. The cloth face coverings are washable, and will help school districts meet safety needs for reopening schools this fall. According to current state public health orders, face coverings are required in schools when six feet of physical distancing is not practical.

“This pandemic has required state and local collaboration between public and private entities at a level that has not existed in the past,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “As a result, we’re seeing incredible partnerships formed that will hopefully remain permanent. The delivery of these face coverings is one of many accomplishments arising out of these strong state and private partnerships”

WDH/WOHS identified these face coverings as a potential resource for schools. This resource was obtained by WDH/WOHS through FEMA. Ongoing procurement activities are a joint effort between these agencies as they continue to pursue critical supplies to support Wyoming’s communities. This needed resource is being distributed in early August to school districts across the state through the partnership between WDH/WOHS and county emergency management.

“We are grateful for this opportunity to assist WDE in its efforts to reopen schools in a safe and timely manner,” said WOHS Director Lynn Budd. “The Wyoming Office of Homeland Security, the Wyoming Department of Health and other state and local agencies are coordinating efforts to distribute the face coverings to each county emergency manager.  Each emergency manager will in turn coordinate with their local school districts to arrange for distribution of the face coverings.”

WDH recommends people wear cloth face coverings in public settings where it is not possible or reasonable to stay physically apart.

“We know some individuals can transmit the virus to others before they feel or show any symptoms. It’s also becoming increasingly clear the virus spreads mainly between people when they are close to each other. Cloth face coverings have been effective in helping to block the spread of the virus,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH.

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

Computer Science Performance Standards Public Input Period Open

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) is accepting public input on the proposed 2020 Computer Science Performance Standards. Previously, all Performance Level Descriptors (PLDs) were deemed the Performance Standards to measure student proficiency.

The State Board of Education (SBE) has asked the Computer Science Standards Review Committee to identify a subset of PLDs to be the Performance Standards, on which students will be assessed through the District Assessment System.

The Content Standards were adopted on Feb. 4, 2020. The Computer Science “Content Standards” are the content and skills students are expected to know and be able to do by the end-of-the gradeband.

Performance Standards are the standards all students are expected to learn and be assessed on through the district assessment system by the end-of-the grade-band. They specify the specific degree of understanding or demonstration of the knowledge and/or skill for a particular content standard. As such, it employs clear action verbs and describes “how good is good enough.” Districts are expected to give students multiple opportunities to demonstrate proficiency on the Performance Standards and provide appropriate supports for student success.

Once adopted, the Performance Standards will accompany the previously adopted 2019 Wyoming Computer Science Content Standards. Performance Standards will be tied to the Content Standards on which districts are expected to assess all students through the district assessment system.

Public input on the proposed Performance Standards is open through 11:59 p.m. on August 27, 2020. Comments can be submitted online or mailed to:

Wyoming Department of Education
Attn: Barb Marquer
122 West 25th Street, Suite E200
Cheyenne, WY 82002

The input collected on the Performance Standards will be shared with the State Board of Education for its consideration for adoption.

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