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.

Leadership in Personalized and Digital Learning

Dear Superintendents,

This is a short and sweet update as I am hunting in northern Wyoming and there are no memos to share.

Educators from across Wyoming met in Casper this past week for the first Leadership in Personalized and Digital Learning training. This cohort of Winning innovative leaders offers school and district leaders an opportunity for job-embedded, professional learning to prepare to lead personalized learning in their schools and districts.

A dozen educators stand in a circle in the middle of a conference room for a facilitated discussion.

There are no memos this week.


WDE Hits the Road

Dear Superintendents,

WDE was out and about across the state this week. Here are a few photos–partnering with educators on policy and practice is our specialty!

WDE staff look at Standards Supervisor Barb Marquer as she points to a screen she used for her presentation which features the logos for Boot Up Wyoming and the Wyoming Department of Education.
WDE’s Catherine Palmer, Barb Marquer, and Laurie Hernandez (L to R) presented on Implementing Computer Science: Supporting Districts through Grants & Programs at the 2018 CSTA State Policy Forum Friday in Denver
WDE staff wit with staff from the American Heart Association in a collaboration space at the WDE. One of them holds a keyring full of trinkets.
WDE teammates Rob Black and Kodi Gerhold met Monday with Emily Kirk and Elizabeth Tomlin from the American Heart Association to discuss the promotion of the Kids Heart Challenge in schools and communities across Wyoming
The state superintendent sits on stage at Little America with two other panelists.
Slyvia Lyles from the U.S. Dept. of Education and Jodi Grant from the National Afterschool Alliance attended Wyoming’s Afterschool Alliance annual conference this week.
A classroom full of teachers look at a screen where Cindy and Sharla lead training on the new science standards.
Round two of the Five Tools training began at Laramie County School District #1 on Monday with Cindy Gay and Sharla Dowding from BSCS Science Learning

Memos to be released on Monday, October 8:


Fall is Here

Dear Superintendents,

The week wrapped up with snow in some of our communities–fall is definitely here! With that comes additional announcements (memos) from our office. Many are the annual requests for data and the dissemination of information while some have brand new information and opportunities. As I have for the past several years, I will continue to send memos for you to preview with this update–they go public on Mondays. The WDE also shares information via social media. If you, your board members, or your staff are not connected to our social media sites, links are at the bottom of this update.


The Joint Education Interim Committee met this week in Casper to hear from stakeholders about school finance and education issues. The meeting wrapped up late this afternoon.

AdvancED held their Continuous Improvement Conference in Laramie. Former State Superintendent Judy Catchpole and Cody Superintendent Ray Schulte were recognized for their service on the council and Lovell Superintendent Rick Woodford received an award for his leadership.

Executives from AdvancEd give Superintendent Woodford his award.
Lovell Superintendent Woodford is honored for his leadership
An executive from AdvancEd gives former state superintendent Judy Catchpole her award.
Judy Catchpole is honored for her service to the AdvancED council
Memos to be released on Monday, October 1:


CTE and Afterschool Programs

Dear Superintendents,

This week I had the opportunity to present to a U.S. Senate Caucus on Career and Technical Education and after school opportunities. Attendance at the panel was standing room only and caucus members heard clearly about how the work they’ve done to create flexibility in both Perkins and ESSA creates more opportunities for students to achieve education goals. It was exciting to share how, through grant funding (Title IV-B and Wyoming Trust Fund), we were able to create alignment between accountability, CTE, computer science, and after school programs. Thank you for your innovation–it’s always an honor to represent the great work happening in Wyoming schools.

Superintendent Balow stands with other presenters to the U.S. Senate Caucus in the congressional room where the meeting took place. A presentation screen reads, "CTE and Afterschool Update: Youth Career Pathways Succeed with Partners."
Presenters from across the nation share experiences and policy

Wyoming’s First Ever Hackathon was a Success! (take a look at #6!)

  1. committed to opening a new office for blockchain software developers in Wyoming.
  2. ActiveAether announced it is relocating from New York City to Jackson.
  3. ActiveAether announced a donation of compute capacity worth $20k in fogcoins to UW’s Computer Science Dept.
  4. 27 teams competed—comprised of developers from Switzerland, Egypt, Slovakia, China, Kenya, Canada and all over Wyoming and the US.
  5. All 3 candidates for governor of Wyoming (D, L, R) judged the “Best for Wyoming” category and pitched to participants to stay in Wyoming.
  6. A teacher and his 3 teenaged students from Shoshoni were awarded several thousand dollars in prize value by Decent, a Swiss company whose engineers traveled from Switzerland and Slovakia to attend and they mentored the Shoshoni students.

Latina Conference

In years past, many schools have sent young women to the Wyoming Latina Youth Conference and I would like to, once again, extend an invitation for students and teachers in your district to attend. With “Power of Choice” as a theme, there are inspirational speakers throughout the event. Please share this link with anyone who might be interested:

UW President Laurie Nichols and Community College Executive Director Sandy Caldwell meet with State Superintendent Jillian Balow in her office at the Wyoming Department of Education.
Community College Exec Director Sandy Caldwell, UW President Laurie Nichols, and State Superintendent Jillian Balow meet regularly to align goals and practice.

Memos to be released on Monday, September 24, 2018:


Financial Literacy Resource

Dear Superintendents,

Thanks to a partnership between the University of Wyoming and Ramsey Education, Wyoming high schools can receive financial literacy curriculum and entrepreneurship curriculum free of charge. Financial literacy continues to be a priority of mine and I encourage you to read my letter with more information:

Superintendent Balow with Assistant Deputy Secretary Jose Viana and staff at Munger Mountain Elementary School stand in the hallway underneath a banner that reads, "Somos Los Lobos. We are safe. Responsables. Respetuosos U Global Citizens."
Touring Munger Mountain Elementary, a dual language immersion school in Jackson, with USED’s Assistant Deputy Secretary Jose Viana.

Both Teton #1 and Laramie #1 welcomed Assistant Deputy Secretary Jose Viana on school visits as part of USED’s Back-to-School Tour. Jose is the Director of the Office of English Language Acquisition and both school districts were able to show their excellent work with English Learners and their families. You can read more on his visit in the articles linked below:

Memos to be released:


Boot Up Wyoming School Tours

Dear Superintendents,
The Boot Up Wyoming Team at WDE finished school tours this week to gather information about computer science education. Here are a few initial takeaways:

  • Many schools have begun offering basic and advanced computer science courses.
  • Teachers are anxious for computer science standards and often asked questions about the timeline.
  • The desire and need for professional development was expressed consistently throughout the state.
  • Meeting the demand of students who want to take computer science classes is a challenge and will be more of a challenge going forward.
  • Elementary educators are concerned about implementing computer science into the school day (integrated, as a discrete subject, how long, etc)

To date 40 of 48 districts have completed computer science cost survey released last April. We are anxious to report on the results once we have 100% completion.

Laurel Ballard and the WDE Team visit schools to assess Boot Up Wyoming needs and capacity

Memos to be released on Monday, September 10:


A New School Year

Dear Superintendents,

As the school year begins, I remind you that the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) stands ready to support your schools. We sponsored, supported, and attended dozens of trainings across the state over the summer and we understand that “sit and get” is the least effective professional development. We intend to continue supporting, coaching, and providing guidance throughout the school year.

Congratulations to new superintendents in the state and we look forward to seeing you throughout the year in your community, and at statewide gatherings.

It was a remarkable experience to attend the Solution Tree PLC and RTI conference recently in Worland. What struck me most profoundly was the enthusiasm of the teachers (mostly from Wyoming). Even on day 3, the energy was contagious. I am so proud of our work together in the RTI and school culture arena to support all schools, especially those that are struggling the most. This initiative is a hallmark that positively and immediately impacts students. Thank you for your commitment to the initiative!

Kayla stands and speaks at the podium inside the Casper Events Center.
Kayla was named Youth of the Year at the Central Wyoming Boys and Girls Clubs breakfast in Casper this week. The event brought thousands of community members who support learning opportunities outside of the school day.
The runners up for Youth of the Year hold their plaques and pose with the State Superintendent at the Casper Events Center, next to a sign for Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming
Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming Youth of the Year runners up


In the coming weeks, we will be asking for staffing data for special education in your school district, via survey. This information is being collected in fulfillment of our statutory obligation under 2018 House Bill 140 (Enrolled Act 68), Section 4(b) which states:

“On or before January 1, 2019, the state superintendent of public instruction shall establish statewide guidelines for adequate special education staffing levels as required by W.S. 21-2-202(a)(xxiii).”

In advance, I thank you for your effort in completing the survey expeditiously.

The State Superintendent stands with Andy Jones inside the new B.E.A.S.T. facility, which is a large warehouse-type building with basketball and volleyball courts and wide open space for a variety of activities.
Andy Jones, Founder of B.E.A.S.T. in Cheyenne, welcomes visitors into the community facility (rec center and STEM space) this week.
Memos to be released on Tuesday, September 4:


Back to School

Dear Superintendents,

Welcome back to the 2018-19 school year. There are lots of memos this week. It was wonderful to see so many of you, faculty, and staff at trainings this summer.

Havely Holt, teacher in Douglas, was recognized for her contributions to agricultural education.
Havely Holt, teacher in Douglas, was recognized for her contributions to agricultural education.

Attendees at the Solution Tree PLC/RTI conference celebrated their learning on day 3 with the Electric Slide
Attendees at the Solution Tree PLC/RTI conference celebrated their learning on day 3 with the Electric Slide

Memos to be released on Monday:


End of Summer

Dear Superintendents,

Summer is winding down and I know many of you are already welcoming back your staff to prepare for the start of the new school year. Thank you to all who attended one of our conferences this summer. Special thank you to the sponsors who helped us put together the first School Safety Summit a couple of weeks ago.

School Safety Summit logo. Thank you to our sponsors: Wyoming Office of Homeland Security, Hat Six Travel Center, Wyoming Education Association, School Facilities Division, Laramie County Community College.

Earlier this week, Governor Mead approved changes to rules for Chapters, 6, 10, and 31 regarding accreditation, statewide standards, and graduation requirements. More info is in the press release sent earlier today, available here.

Memos to be released on Monday, August 20:


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