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.

Professional Development Opportunities a Chance to Revitalize

Dear Superintendents,

A full summer of professional development for educators across the state is almost in the rear-view mirror! These opportunities to network informally – and learn more about our trade – allow us to open the school year revitalized.

Here are a few stats from summer trainings and conferences hosted by the WDE:

  • A record-setting 619 people participated in last week’s Native American Education Conference in Riverton.
  • At the Wyoming School Nutrition Conference, five schools were awarded for increasing breakfast participation.
  • Participants at the same conference scrambled around the Ramkota in the Amazing School Nutrition Race.
  • The National Assessment Governing Board, an independent, bipartisan federal board that sets policy for NAEP, commonly known as The Nation’s Report Card, held its quarterly meeting in Cheyenne.
  • Dr. Patrick Schwarz talked about co-teaching at the Week of Academic Vision in Excellence (WAVE) conference in Laramie.
  • Through a Microsoft grant, the WDE hosted 17 districts, two private schools for a total of 100 people in Strategic CSforALL Resource & Implementation Planning Tool (SCRIPT) training. Two more trainings are scheduled in Gillette and Afton. (Note to districts: The Afton training on September 16-17 still has space. Register here).


Teens who attended the Native American Education Conference had the opportunity to learn about Arapaho horse culture, taught by Elk Sage, suicide prevention coordinator for the Northern Arapaho Tribe.


First Lady Jennie Gordon and Superintendent Jillian Balow pose with the Breakfast Challenge winners during the School Nutrition Association of Wyoming’s annual conference in Casper.


CSforALL SCRIPT training asked educators to work on how to engage their communities to help bring computer science to the classroom. The groups then shared out in a ‘gallery walk’ to promote and share ideas.

Federal Funding Update:

On August 2, President Donald Trump signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019, which sets discretionary spending limits for Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021. House and Senate appropriators may now proceed in approving spending bills for the ongoing activities of the federal government, including education.

In Wyoming, staff members at WDE are working with school districts to spend down remaining funds from FY17-18. If you have questions about spend down, please contact us. 

Memos to be released on Monday, August 19:

  •  2019-084:  Wyoming Cowboy ChalleNGe Academy
  •  2019-085:  Chapter 38 Public Comment: Hathaway Scholarship Program
  •  2019-086:  NCII Spotlights Wyoming SPED Work
  •  2019-087:  Chapter 46 Public Comment: Early Childhood Grant
  •  2019-088:  2019 Back-To-School Toolkit Available


A Busy Week in Wyoming Education

Girls School Graduation 8-8-19

Superintendent Balow was the commencement speaker for the graduation ceremony at the Wyoming Girls School and is pictured here with graduates Ariel, Kindel, Taylor and Jasmine. We are so proud of these young women.

Senator Enzi and Kari Eakins Native American Education Conference

Thank you Sen. Mike Enzi for being part of the 2019 Native American Education Conference in Riverton Thursday. We appreciate the time you spent talking to participants (and posing with our own Kari Eakins), as well as presenting the 2019 Student Pacesetter Awards. Your commitment to Wyoming is gratifying.

Student riding a horse at the Native American Education Conference

One of the most popular sessions at the annual Native America Education Conference in Riverton is the horse culture session, which included a teen session this year. Teens first cleansed themselves with sage, then were allowed to ride.

Memos to be released:

  • Memo 2019 – 2019-079:  Webinar on English Learners and Title III Funding
  • Memo 2019 – 2019-080:  Rachel’s Challenge
  • Memo 2019 – 2019-081:  United States Senate Youth Program
  • Memo 2019 – 2019-082:  2018-19 Student Level WY-ALT Assessment Review Window
  • Memo 2019 – 2019-083:  U.S. Census Bureau Statistics in Schools Ambassador Program


Keeping Up With Wyoming’s Teacher of the Year

Dear Superintendents,


Superintendent Balow is joined by Wyoming Teacher of the Year Valerie Bruce of Rozet at the Cheyenne Frontier Days parade. 


Valerie Bruce continued her tour of Cheyenne by catching pancakes with her son, Cormack, at the Kiwanis free pancake breakfast during Cheyenne Frontier Days.


Before coming to Cheyenne for Frontier Days, Bruce participated in Space Camp USA in Alabama. Her Team Harmony was tasked with a mission to Mars!

Memos to be released:

  • Memo 2019-078 – Student Level Assessment Review Windows


More Good News About Financial Literacy in Wyoming

Dear Superintendents,

There is more good news about financial literacy in Wyoming. Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to hear an update from the leaders of Young AmeriTowne: WyoTowne. Many of you attended a panel at last year’s State Superintendent’s Policy Summit (S5S) and learned about the lofty goals set for the program and it showed! The program grew to 1,237 fifth graders – there is still room for more students to participate this upcoming school year!

The WyoTowne program engages students in positive civic behavior, leadership, problem solving, and money management. WyoTowne is a positive and impactful primer to programs that many schools offer in middle school and high school.

Comments about WyoTowne 2018-2019:

“The reason the day was so powerful goes way beyond the WyoTowne experience. The curriculum is thorough, user-friendly, and offers students an experience they do not get anywhere else in K-12 education.” – Joel Thomas, Principal at Little Snake River Valley School

“Thank you for making this a part of our school. We have struggled with these skills our whole lives and would have love to have this experience when we were kids.” – Wyoming Parent

“Why was this so short? We wanted to stay longer.” – Wyoming 5th Grader

Below is a graphic with information about this year’s WyoTowne, if you would like to learn more or schedule a day for your students to attend.


Memos to be released Monday, July 22:

  • 2019-076 – Chapter 3 Public Comment: Rules of Practice & Procedures
  • 2019-077 – Computer Science Resources


Ramsey Financial Literacy Curriculum Results Impressive

Dear Superintendents,

One year ago, Ramsey Solutions partnered with UW to bring FINANCIAL LITERACY curriculum and materials to every high school in Wyoming. Wyoming did not disappoint — the results were impressive. Ramsey Solutions was founded by Dave Ramsey, a leader in financial management and literacy. Here are highlights from the school year:

  • 89% of all Wyoming high schools used the curriculum
  • 5,000-plus Wyoming high school students were impacted
  • Financial literacy pre and post test scores went from 66% to 85%
  • UW featured on The Dave Ramsey Show
  • A blog article highlighting UW was #1 on Google

Thank you for using Ramsey to teach financial literacy in your schools! We are now exploring funding opportunities for the upcoming school year and beyond — the UW partnership only provided one-year funding for resources.

I am keenly interested in seeing Ramsey continue to provide resources at low or no cost to Wyoming schools and will keep you up to date. I’d love to hear your ideas and success stories with Ramsey.

CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION (CTE) continues to be a substantial discussion topic as the Wyoming Business Council, Post Secondary Attainment Council, the Wyoming Association of Career and Technical Educators (WACTE), and ENDOW meet to evaluate goals, strategies and actions. Business and industry are well-represented in the discussion about how the newly enacted Perkins V funding will be structured and implemented.

Schools of all sizes are taking the lead and thinking innovatively about how to deliver relevant, scaleable, and valued CTE pathways to more students. Your partnership with local business and industry is key. The WDE has recently provided technical assistance to several industry partners and schools interested in setting up apprenticeships.

This week the U.S. Department of Labor announced major milestones in the continuing effort to expand apprenticeships.  First, it published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to establish a process to advance the development of high-quality, industry-recognized apprenticeship programs, known as IRAPs.  Second, it awarded $183.8 million to support the development and expansion of apprenticeships for educational institutions partnering with businesses that provide a funding match component.

Successful apprenticeships rely on ongoing collaboration among K-12, higher education (community colleges), and business and industry.


WDE Career and Technical Education teammates Dr. Michelle Aldrich and Ilaine Brown dropped by the Laramie County Community College’s booth at the SkillsUSA Championships in Lexington, KY recently.


Last week, the U.S. Dept of Education (USED) released final non-regulatory guidance for “supplement not supplant.” This changed under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to provide greater flexibility to districts while still ensuring that federal funds are supplemental to state funds and cannot be used to replace them.

The guidance explains how ESSA modified the requirement to reduce administrative burden, simplify compliance, and promote effective spending. To comply with the new requirement, a district need only show that its methodology to allocate state and local resources to schools does not take into account a school’s Title I status. For many, the requirement can be met using the district’s current methodology for allocating state and local resources.

Federal programs staff at the WDE is always available to assist schools and districts ensure maximum spending flexibility and compliance with state and federal law.


Superintendent Jillian Balow and WDE teammate Thom Jones were joined by Kathy Escobedo, Early Intervention and Education Program, Unit Manager, BHD, at the Wyoming Department of Health and Alisha Rone, Executive Director at Child Development Center in Casper, as part of the task force working to implement Waterford UPSTART in Wyoming.


The USED is currently accepting applications from entities, including schools and districts, for three grant competitions that support locally tailored approaches to school safety The grants align with recommendations from the Federal Commission on School Safety’s final report.


This program helps Local Education Agencies (LEAs) enhance their ability to identify, assess and serve students exposed to pervasive violence. Funds from this $10 million grant competition can be used to provide mental health services for trauma or anxiety; support conflict resolution programs; and implement other school – based violence prevention strategies. The deadline to apply is July 15, 2019.


This $40 million grant competition provides funds to LEAs to develop, enhance, or expand systems of support for schools implementing strategies to improve learning conditions and promote positive school culture for all students. The deadline to apply is July 22, 2019.


This $15 million grant competition promotes partnerships between colleges or universities and high-need school districts in order to expand the pipeline of trained school-based mental health services providers. The deadline to apply is Aug. 5, 2019.


WDE teammates were among the participants at the Open Education Resource (OER) Workshop, where a group exercise was to create what one attendee called the “inspiration headset generator.”

Memos to be released on July 1:

  • 2019-075 – Chapter 2 and Chapter 20 Rules Public Comment and Hearing: Transportation



WDE Outreach – In Pictures

Dear Superintendents,

One memo and a few photos:


It was a privilege to speak at the annual custodians conference. Pictured here with the incoming and outgoing assosication presidents.script

Computer Science SCRIPT training is well-attended and well-received.nkh

Wyoming received a grant to expand school breakfast and a team of leaders set goals this week in New Orleans.

Memos to be released on Monday, June 17

Wyoming’s A Grade On Quality Counts Report

Dear Superintendents,

This week the Quality Counts report on school finance was released and Wyoming is ranked #1. Looking just beyond the “A” grade that Wyoming received is an important story. Half of the score is based on quantity–how much money is spent on education. The other half of the score represents how fairly money is spread to schools and districts–quality of funding. Here are a few Wyoming-specific highlights:

  • The national average grade was “C.” Wyoming was the only state to receive and “A.”
  • Other states with high grades ranked high in spending (quantity) but low in equity (quality). Wyoming scored high in both.

Here is a link to the report and interactive state reviews.


Teachers in Rock Springs participate in the SCRIPT Computer Science training.

Memos to be released on Monday, June 10:

  • 2019-073 – Webinar on English Learners and Title III Funding



‘The Condition of Education, 2019’

Dear Superintendents,

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) recently released “The Condition of Education 2019,” a report on education in America today.  The report presents 48 indicators in four areas:

  • pre-primary
  • elementary, and secondary education; postsecondary education
  • population characteristics and economic outcomes
  • international comparisons.

It also spotlights several issues of policy interest: young adult educational and employment outcomes by family status and postsecondary outcomes for non-traditional undergraduate students (blog post).

For a snapshot of key information, check out the “At a Glance” and “Highlights” options.

Memos to be released on Monday, June 3:

  • 2019-070 Wyoming Advisory Panel for Students with Disabilities
  • 2019-071 AP Course Information and Trainings
  • 2019-072 Chapter 45 Public Comment: Special Education


Hats Off To All 2019 Graduates

Dear Superintendents,

Hats off to all 2019 graduates at every level!

This week recipients of the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program were named. The program honors the nation’s top-performing students and was expanded in 1979 to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, literary and performing arts. In 2015, the program was again expanded to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.

Congratulations to this year’s Wyoming Presidential Scholars:

  1. Lillian Brazil, Jackson – Jackson Hole High School
  2. Scott Nicholas Orton, Afton – Star Valley High School


Former State Superintendent Judy Catchpole received an honorary doctorate from the University of Wyoming.

Memos to be released on Tuesday, May 28:



Educators Embrace Computer Science Training

Dear Superintendents,

This week saw the first of several CSforAll SCRIPT trainings for educators to help bring computer science and computational thinking to every Wyoming classroom by 2022.

Wyoming received more than $93,000 in grant funding from Microsoft’s TechSpark initiative to offer Strategic CSforALL Resource & Implementation Planning Tool (SCRIPT) training for school districts. CSforALL is an organization dedicated to making computer science part of every K-12 student’s education.

SCRIPT training provides districts with strategic planning tools to think through what is needed to provide equitable, high-quality computer science education available to all students in their districts. Through a series of self-assessment and goal-setting activities, districts will develop a computer science education vision and roadmap for implementation.

Training will occur in five locations and will be open to six districts in each location. Each training consists of several sessions over a year.

  • Casper: May 14 & 15, 2019, Oct. 15, 2019 and May 20, 2020.
  • Rock Springs: June 4 & 5, 2019, Nov. 14, 2019, and June 4, 2020.
  • Cheyenne: June 11 & 12, 2019, Nov. 19, 2019, and June 11, 2020.
  • Worland: Aug. 5 & 6, 2019, Jan. 7, 2020, and Aug. 6, 2020.
  • Gillette: Sept. 24 & 25, 2019, Feb. 25, 2020, and Sept. 24, 2020.


Educators, industry partners and WDE teammates took time for a group photo at the CSforALL SCRIPT training in Casper this week. 


CSforALL SCRIPT training asked educators to work on how to engage their communities to help bring computer science to the classroom. The groups then shared out in a ‘gallery walk’ to promote and share ideas.


The leadership group from Prairie Wind Elementary in Cheyenne came to the WDE offices Friday to discuss education policy and leadership with Chief Policy Director Kari Eakins. The group also got a tour and talked with WDE teammates. 

Memos to be released:

  • 2019-066: Native American Education Conference
  • 2019-067: Hathaway Success Curriculum Changes and Guidance
  • 2019-068: Change in Home Language Survey Requirements