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.

Special Announcement

Dear Superintendents,

Earlier today the Federal Commission on School Safety confirmed plans to hold its third listening session of four in Cheyenne on Tuesday, August 7. President Trump appointed members to the Commission in March of this year and they are: Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. The Commission is charged with rapidly making recommendations to keep students safe at school. They are discussing a range of issues like social emotional support, effective school safety infrastructure, minimum age for firearms purchases, and the impact that videogames and the media have on violence.

The listening session is held in conjunction with our first statewide school safety summit where school, community, state, and national leaders will have the opportunity to coalesce around safety priorities and needs.

Here are media releases for both events with hot links to agendas, locations, registration, and more:

Statewide School Safety Summit

FCSS Listening Session

I am very pleased that the Commission has chosen Wyoming as the location to hold a listening session. The rural perspective is essential and your participation will ensure our voice is on the record. The first two sessions were held in Washington, DC and Lexington, KY, respectively.

In addition to taking public comment, the listening session will feature several roundtable discussions. I will have the opportunity share comments on behalf of our state and participate in a roundtable discussion.

This is a rare opportunity for our state and an important time for Wyoming voices to be heard. Please plan to attend.

School Safety Summit Logo

Jillian

Perkins Reauthorization

Dear Superintendents,

This week, the U.S. House and Senate approved bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. President Trump will soon sign into law the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act.

The Perkins Act was last authorized in 2006. Since that time, the employment marketplace and career paths have changed dramatically. Health care, information technology, and many other cutting- edge fields have growing demands for well-educated and trained workers. Wyoming’s Senator Enzi, a longtime proponent of the Perkins Act and CTE, was a key leader in the development and passage of the final legislation. In the coming days our team at WDE looks forward to unpacking the tenets of the new Perkins Act and aligning them with our priorities, practices, and goals for CTE.

Dressed in pink shirts and cowboy hats, a teacher helps an elementary student learn how to rope at the Challenge Rodeo.
Wyoming’s Teacher of the Year, Sara Reed, helps Challenge Rodeo participants during Cheyenne Frontier Days. For the second year, CFD honored teachers and treated the Wyoming Teacher of the Year to VIP events.

Memos to be released on Monday, July 30:

Jillian

Busy Teachers During the Summer

Dear Superintendents,

I’ve had the opportunity to visit with various groups of educators over the past couple of weeks and am humbled by the hard and thoughtful work taking place. From work on standards to curriculum to setting cut scores to traditional PD, hundreds of Wyoming educators are working to improve all facets of education. Thank you!

A WDE employee sits with two teachers at a table developing agriculture focused curricula for Wyoming's science standards.
Teachers develop Wyoming-specific science curriculum through the Wyoming Stewardship Program (Ag in the Classroom)
About 30 members of the standards review committee sit at classroom style tables with their arms raised in excitement to start their work on computer science standards.

Wyoming begins developing K-12 computer science standards

In September a unique and monumental event will take place in Laramie–a Hackathon! We are partnering to create a K-12 Hackathon strand. This event adds to the momentum created by computer science education and blockchain legislation passed in 2018. Chances are good that a few folks in your community or district are interested in attending–Please pass this information along!

Wyoming Hackathon link

Hackathon Press Release

Finally, the discussion about school safety is ramping up and, in my opinion, the conversation is more productive than in previous years. At the national level, leaders from various federal agencies are taking on tough subjects that compromise the safety of students including violence, mental health, and more. I serve on a national steering committee charged with the development of a repository of data and resources for states to use. The Wyoming Legislature is studying school safety as an interim topic. And, next month, Wyoming will host the first-ever school safety summit. The dates of the summit have changed and some very exciting plans are in development even as I write this update. Please make sure your plans include early arrival on August 7 as we anticipate discussions ahead of the summit. There is also a networking reception planned for August 7. Here is a rough agenda for the event:

School Safety Summit Dates and Draft Agenda

Please look for more information about this in the coming days.

School Safety Summit

Memos to be released on Monday, July 23:

Jillian

Girls State

Dear Superintendents,

I hope summer is going well. Only one memo this week.

From left-to-right: WDE Communications Director Kari Eakins, Girls State delegate Riley, State Superintendent Jillian Balow, Girls State delegate Bailey, and WDE Chief Policy Officer Megan Degenfelder stand in front of the Great Seal of the State of Wyoming at the WDE.
Bailey from Cheyenne was elected State Superintendent at Girls State. She visited the WDE on Friday with her alternate, Riley from Rock Springs, to talk about education and leadership.

Memo to be released Monday, July 18:

Jillian

JEIC Meeting

Dear Superintendents,

It was good to see many of you at events and meetings across the state this week. Legislative interim work is in motion after this week’s JEIC meetings. Here is a link to meeting materials including a number of WDE memos that were requested or required by the legislature during the 2018 session. I anticipate a number of committee-sponsored bills to come forth for 2019.

Chief Academic Officer Brent Bacon announced his retirement and we wish him well in whatever the future holds. Brent has been an instrumental leader in Wyoming education for decades and with my administration since 2015. We are actively seeking candidates to replace Brent. Here is the link to the job description and application information. Please consider sharing the link with your networks.

In my role as a state land commissioner, I had the privilege of helping dedicate a parcel of state trust land to former Treasurer Joe Meyer. Treasurer Meyer was an avid outdoorsman and “rock hound.” He and his family spent free time near the parcel of dedicated land, just outside of Dubois. The treasurer’s son, Vince Meyer, is a long-time and valued employee at WDE. He works behind the scenes with data and reporting. Congrats to the Meyer family on this homage to a Wyoming legend!

The State Board of Land Commissioners is made up with the five statewide elected officials (governor, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, and superintendent). Our fiduciary responsibility with state trust lands is to maximize revenue to be used for education in our state. Revenue is realized by leasing land for grazing, exploration, and more.

Superintendent Balow stands with Vince Meyer next to the sign that explains the dedication of the land behind them to Joe Meyer.
Vince Meyer of WDE helps dedicate a parcel of state trust land to his father and Wyoming’s late Treasurer Joe Meyer
A landscape in Wyoming with a fence in the foreground and prairie that turns into hills covered with pine trees in the background.
With Rams Horn Peak in the background, the dedicated parcel is a full section–640 acres

Memos to be released on Monday, June 11:

Jillian

Start of the Summer

Dear Superintendents,

As summer approaches, I hope you all find time to relax with family and friends. In that spirit, memos from me will continue to go out on Friday and will intermittently be accompanied by an update. WDE is gearing up for numerous trainings across the state and we look forward to seeing many of you as you take opportunities to learn and network alongside educators and leaders from your districts.

Graduates don orange safety vests and gold hardhats as they hold their certificates next to three staff members from the Regional Training Center.

Students in Natrona County School District No. 1 received their Heavy Equipment Operator certifications (backhoe, excavator, bulldozer, and front end loader) from the Wyoming Contractors Association prior to their high school graduation. This inaugural graduation is the result of an innovative partnership between the school district and the Wyoming Contractors Association, with funding support from Skilled Careers Foundation and the WDE’s Career Technical Education team.

WDE staff sit with AIR staff and members of the Technical Advisory Committee in a conference room.

The Standards & Assessment Division had their quarterly meeting with American Institutes for Research (AIR) on Wednesday. The meeting was followed by two days of Technical Advisory Committee meetings.

There are no memos this week.

Jillian

Federal Flexibility

Dear Superintendents,

GRANT OPPORTUNITY

This week, the United States Department of Education (USED) announced a second round of grants for a student-centered pilot. This marks a significant shift from state-selected sub-grantees to local school and district grantees. As part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), this grant could afford local flexibility from certain federal requirements. Memo 218-065 has more information.

CTE-Carl D. Perkins

Efforts to reauthorize the Carl Perkins (Career and Technical Education) Act might be resurrected. An interesting article from Bloomberg points to recent interest from the White House – specifically Ivanka Trump – motivating Senators to come back to the table to discuss reauthorization. The House passed a CTE bill nearly a year ago, and the Senate has been hung up over debate on secretarial prohibitions. If Senators Alexander and Murray can negotiate that hurdle, they may be able to reach a deal – but time is limited and the clock is ticking on highly sought after Senate floor time in this election year.

State Superintendent Jillian Balow, State Treasurer Mark Gordon, and Wyoming Governor Matt Mead stand with the twelve elementary school bookmark winners.
Wyoming Ag in the Classroom Bookmark Winners

Memos to be released on Tuesday, May 29, 2018:

Jillian

Graduation Time

Dear Superintendents,

It’s always a treat to celebrate milestones and new beginnings at UW and across schools statewide. Congrats to all of your graduates as you celebrate in your communities!

University of Wyoming graduates, in the caps and gowns, fill the floor of the Arena Auditorium during their commencement ceremony while faculty on the stage applaud the graduates.
UW celebrates 2018 graduation with commencement ceremonies

The WDE held public input sessions that will help inform the computer science standards development committee. There is still an opportunity to provide input online through June 3. Here is the media release with additional information about opportunities, a timeline, and links for implementing Boot Up Wyoming, our state’s computer science initiative.

Boot Up Wyoming Media Release

Thank you to the superintendents, board members, teachers, and citizens who took time to attend one of the sessions.

A WDE staff member presents in a conference room with attendees filling the first row of tables.
Computer Science standards input meeting in Pinedale.

Memos to be released on Monday May 21:

Jillian

Teacher Appreciation Week

Dear Superintendents,

There are a number of memos this week with important information and updates. As always, memos are released to Wyoming superintendents several days in advance of sending to particular educator audiences and posting to our website.

It was wonderful to see and take part in Teacher Appreciation Week 2018. Teachers are certainly the cornerstone of providing a quality education for every student and deserve every ounce of our praise.

Soon, we will release an introductory video for Boot Up Wyoming, our computer science initiative. This is the first call to action for stakeholders-parents, teachers, students, partners-to get engaged in the development of standards. The video will be available on social media and our website and will be a discussion starter at upcoming public input meetings across the state.

Here is a teaser from Wyoming’s 2017 Teacher of the Year and State Board member, Ryan Fuhrman

Sara Reed poses for a picture with Vice President Mike Pence in a crowded room in the White House.
2018 Wyoming Teacher of the Year, Sara Reed, with Vice President Pence
Superintendent Balow stands with participants and leaders from the Rawlins Best Buddies program underneath a big banner that reads, "Best Buddies".

Rawlins students, teachers, leaders, and community partners celebrated the inaugural year of the Best Buddies program

Memos to be released on Monday, May 14:

Jillian