Category Archives: Superintendent’s Weekly Update

State Superintendent Jillian Balow sends an update to school district superintendents at the end of every week so they can see the memos which will be sent out the following week and highlight statewide education work.

Summer Professional Development Opportunities

Dear Superintendents,

Summer professional development opportunities hosted or sponsored by the Wyoming Department of Education are listed on our website. We strive to keep the content relevant and engaging for educators and look forward to seeing you this summer.

An interesting article this week in Education Week  includes a poll that found 42% of teachers and administrators surveyed said more students would have to repeat a grade and 68% said more students would have to retake courses. The story also featured expert discussion on retention policies.

Federal Updates

  • The U.S. Department of Education released a new FAQ document on uses and restrictions with ESSER funding. 
  • The Office of Civil Right released “Dear Educator” Letter reminding schools of obligations to investigate and address all forms of harassment in educational environments, including harassment directed towards Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students. You can read the letter here.
  • The Office of Civil Rights OCR announced a virtual public hearing June 7-11 to gather information for improving enforcement of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.  This hearing is part of OCR’s comprehensive review of the Department’s existing regulations and other actions related to implementing the President Biden’s executive orders regarding discrimination on the basis of sex, including sexual orientation and gender identity. Members of the public may register to make live comments during the hearing.  They may also send written comments to, following guidelines in the hearing notice.


Student designers gave me a tour of the student-built cabin they staged. All are students at Pathways Innovation Center 21st Century School in Casper.

Memos to be released on Tuesday, June 1:


Blue Balow Signature

National Summer Learning and Enrichment Collaborative

Dear Superintendents,

Three-plus weeks of school and community visits was a success. Again, thank you for welcoming me into your classrooms.

As the summer break approaches, these updates will be sporadic and as needed. Enjoy a much needed respite.


Congrats Big Piney Principal Mr. Makelky on being the 2020 Secondary Principal of the Year

National Summer Learning and Enrichment Collaborative

The U.S. Dept. of Education, National Governors Association (NGA), Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and the Comprehensive Center Network launched the Summer Learning and Enrichment Collaborative. Dates for the virtual events are May 27, June 10, June 24, July 8, July 22, and August 12. The purpose of the collaborative is to support state and local teams, community partners, and other education stakeholders as they plan and implement learning and enrichment activities during the summer and beyond. Each session will have a short opening plenary along with concurrent discussions offering practical tools, strategies, and opportunities for peer sharing in the following areas: building school-community partnerships, effective use of fiscal resources, attracting/supporting staff for summer programs, evidence-based learning and enrichment strategies, addressing a full range of student needs, and tailoring supports to specific populations.

Memos to be released today:

Blue Balow Signature

Congratulations to WY U.S. Presidential Scholars

Dear Superintendents,

During visits to Wyoming schools this week I met with students and parents to gather stakeholder input about using the American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds, as required by law. The conversations were insightful and sincere. Thank you for generously scheduling the visits and welcoming me into schools. It is always an honor.

Monthly data from the NAEP 2021 School Survey were released for March – Wyoming is included.

Broadband Assistance Program for Families

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is managing an assistance program to ensure all students have access to broadband internet. More information about who qualifies and how to participate can be found here

Several new resources of note:

  • The Education Commission of the States (ECS) will host a webinar series, Data Privacy Lessons from the Pandemic Virtual Series
  • A newly developed website,, provides local and state leaders with evidence-based practices for implementing quality afterschool and summer enrichment programs and help meet the American Rescue Plan (ARP) goals of addressing students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs. 

mr b

Mr. Bahige is Wyoming’s National Distinguished Principal and leads Rawhide Elementary in Gillette. His school has been implementing a Spanish immersion program for 4 years.

May is Military Appreciation Month

Plan ahead for next school year.  This website is a good tool to help organize school or district support for current military members, veterans, and families in your community.


Memos to be released on Monday, May 17:

Blue Balow Signature

Federal Updates

Dear Superintendents,

There are EIGHT memos this week including an important survey, summer professional development, grant opportunities, and more.

It was a treat to be back in schools for in-person visits – I am amazed by the teaching and learning happening in every classroom, every day across our great state. Thank you for welcoming me warmly into your buildings and classes.


The U.S. Department of Education (USED) released this statement about the monthly NAEP survey results regarding reopening schools. Thank you Wyoming for setting the gold standard and for lending to America’s success.

U.S. Education Secretary Cardona thanked teachers in this letter. It is a touching ode to our teachers and the profession. I wholeheartedly agree with the statement, “Every day America’s teachers change lives, and every day those lives change the world.” Thank you teachers!


Celebrating WYTOPP scores with 3rd graders, Mrs. Cobb, Principal Thomas, and Supt. Hamel at Little Snake River Valley K-12 School


Rebecca Murray was named Laramie County School District #1 Teacher of the Year. Superintendent Brown, Principal Cox, and I were on-hand to surprise her.

Military Appreciation Month Continues! Please tag us on social media as you observe the month in your schools. This week Tech Sergeant Dudley, of the Wyoming Air Guard joined us for school visits.


Tech Sergeant Dudley joined me at a school visit to Evansville Elementary to congratulate Wyoming’s 2021 Teacher of the Year, Alexis Barney.

Memos to be released today:

Blue Balow Signature

May is Military Appreciation Month

Dear Superintendents,

In May, we celebrate high school seniors going to college or a trade school, or entering the military. Schools and communities are encouraged to celebrate SIGNING DAYS by posting on social media using #CollegeSigningDay and #MilitarySigningDay. 

*Please tag us in your posts so we can share on our social media as well!



Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day, and Military Spouse Appreciation Day all take place in May. The month-long celebration gives us many opportunities to show our support and gratitude to all the men and women that sacrifice so much for our freedom.

Chances are that we have families in every school with close ties to active duty military members and veterans. These men and women have stories, lessons, and wisdom to share with all of us. Consider inviting a few of them to “zoom in” to classrooms in your district during the month of May.


State officials and 4th grade Arbor Day poster contest winner, Effie Maycock, plant a tree on Wyoming Supreme Court lawn.


  • During his address to Congress, President Biden announced the American Families Plan. Specific to education, the plan includes free community college and free universal pre-kindergarten for all three and four year old children.
  • President Biden and the U.S. Department of Education released this compilation of initiatives, funds, and actions taken during the President’s first one hundred days in office.
  • In a recent letter to district superintendents, Acting Assistant U.S. Secretary for Civil Rights Suzanne Goldberg discussed 2020-21 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC).
  • $200 million in state allocations for Homeless Children and Youth was distributed to states, along with a letter to state superintendents expressing the urgent need to identify those who are homeless, offer wrap-around services in light of the impact of the pandemic, and provide assistance to enable homeless students to attend school and fully participate in school activities.

These memos will be released today:

Blue Balow Signature

Seamless Summer Food Option

April 26, 2021

Dear Superintendents,

We received good news from USDA Food Nutrition Services this past week. Students will continue to receive free meals through next school year through the Seamless Summer Food Option (school enrollment in the program is required). WDE Child Nutrition Programs Director, Tamra Jackson, is in communication with your food service directors to provide details.

Here is a fact sheet on the three federal COVID-19 relief bills.


Students from across the state received congressional awards for achievements in personal development, physical fitness, and exploration. Photo Credit: Rachael and Steven Girt

Memo to be released today:

Blue Balow Signature

Month of the Military Child

Dear Superintendents,

Earlier this week, the CDC announced that nearly 80% of pre-K-12 teachers, school staff, and child care workers (nationwide) had received at least their first shot of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of March.


April is the Month of the Military Child. Many active and part-time (guard, reserve) military members call Wyoming communities home. In a recent report, “Military Kids Now 2020 Survey,” over five-thousand parents, educators, and secondary students weighed in on academics and social and emotional support. Here is the report. 88% of participants reported having activities in their schools to support
military-connected students; most common events were:

  • Recognizing Month of the Military Child
  • Honoring military service members in ceremonies
  • Assisting new students (e.g., tours, lunch buddies, etc.)


Wyoming is participating in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 2021 School Survey. Here is the first monthly report. Of the states that provided sufficient data, Wyoming has the highest percentage of students attending full-time in-person school for both January and February.


Did you miss this in hard-copy? The Casper Star Tribune celebrated the 150th anniversary of women’s suffrage with stories about forty women who found success in Wyoming. Here is a link to the e-edition. 


Memos to be released today:

Blue Balow Signature

USED’s COVID-19 Handbook

Dear Superintendents,

Thank you to those of you who participated in the live student discussion with Dana Perino. If you missed it or want to share it with others here is the link. 

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) released the COVID-19 Handbook, Volume 2: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students’ Needs. The handbook may be helpful to Wyoming educators as we seek to address learning loss and the social-emotional wellbeing of students. Strategies are aligned to acceptable funding uses under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) including:

  • Meeting the social, emotional, and mental-health needs of students
  • Accelerating learning via instructional approaches, tutoring, and expanded learning time
  • Supporting use of technology for teaching and learning

The Wyoming Legislature wrapped up its work this session without passing a school funding recalibration bill. The House and the Senate came to a late-hour impasse on HB173. It’s anticipated they will take up school funding in a special session during the summer. As in years past, the WDE will assemble a webinar discussion for superintendents where we will share pertinent passed and signed legislation.

And, for your information:

The USED’s Office for Civil Rights Launches a Comprehensive Review of Title IX Regulations: ED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced a comprehensive review of the Department’s regulations implementing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as part of implementing President Biden’s March 8 Executive Order on Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free from Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity. In a letter, OCR outlined plans to solicit the public’s input on the regulations, ultimately leading to possible revisions through a notice of proposed rulemaking. OCR also plans to hold a public hearing to enable those who are interested to share their views through oral comments and written submissions. More information on the hearing will be available in the coming weeks and will be posted on the News Room section of OCR’s website. After listening to the public and completing its review of the Title IX regulations, OCR anticipates publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking.

Memos to be released today:

Blue Balow Signature

A Conversation With Dana Perino

Dear Superintendents,

I am so excited about a project I have been working on with students and their teachers in Ten Sleep, Chugwater, and Fort Washakie. Next week, the students will have a live, virtual discussion with Dana Perino, best-selling author and Fox News host from noon-1 p.m. MDT on April 7. The students have developed discussion questions on a range of issues including leadership, the media, politics, and Dana’s Wyoming roots. All Wyoming students and their teachers are invited to watch the discussion live on Zoom or Facebook. The discussion will be available on-demand afterward. Registration is NOT required, the event is FREE, and it will be available to the public afterward on-demand. Event link:

I thank you for sharing this information broadly with secondary-level teachers in your school district. 




  • Representatives from the military academies and the offices of our federal delegation (Senators Barrasso and Lummis and Congresswoman Cheney will host a webinar for students interested in attending an academy after graduation. Information about the event and registration can be found here. 
  • In this week’s memo #43, we announce the Multi-Tiered System Supports Center along with new PD opportunities.
  • The U.S. Department of Education (USED) and the Center to Improve Social and Emotional Learning and School Safety at WestEd hosted a virtual discussion on Addressing the Impact of COVID-19 through Summer Learning and Enrichment.  \The webinar elevated the evidence-based components of high-quality summer and enrichment programming, described how ARP funds can be used to support their design and implementation, and detailed how these opportunities may be available this summer and beyond by building capacity, including the role of philanthropy and community-based partners.
  • In April we recognize the Month of the Military Child and National Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Month.


Memos to be released today:

Blue Balow Signature

Post-COVID Document Available

Dear Superintendents,

I ran across an interesting document that may be insightful as we navigate a post-COVID school environment. The Fordham Institute released The Acceleration Imperative this week, an open-source, evidence-based document created with input from dozens of current and former chief academic officers, scholars, and others with deep expertise and experience in high-performing, high-poverty elementary schools to help address unfinished learning in elementary grades. This resource is a living document that will continue to evolve with the input of readers. Practitioners can download and use it as a starting point or an aid for their own planning purposes, share their comments and experiences, and suggest edits for it on a new wiki-style website,

Members of the Wyoming Legislature continue to whittle down hundreds of bills as they approach the final full week of the session. School funding remains front and center in the debate with the House and Senate proposing different versions of funding legislation. Watch the session, committee meetings, and read bills at .

Included in this week’s memos is information about new federal funds (ARP, ESSER3, ARP-ESSER – a common acronym has not been established yet).


Wyoming’s 2021 Teacher of the Year (WTOY) Alexis Barney plus other district TOYs visited the Capitol. Alexis was given “privilege of the floor” and eloquently advocated for teachers and education.

Memos to be released today:

Blue Balow Signature