On inauguration day, I will be leaving the Wyoming Department of Education and handing my keys to the incoming administration. Therefore, over the next few weeks I will be wrapping up various projects and doing what I can to ensure that Superintendent Degenfelder and her Deputy Superintendent/Chief of Staff are as successful as possible.
One of the most important tasks on my list is to say “Thank You” to Wyoming.
Serving as your Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction has been a tremendous honor. There is only one job that I have loved as much, and that was serving as a mayor of Firestone, CO.
My time at the Wyoming Department of Education has been a healthy mixture of tackling difficult challenges, advocating for educators and implementing various innovations aimed at improving outcomes for kids. I have had the honor of working with legislators, superintendents, school board members and the governor’s office on a variety of important education issues. Although not every day was easy, every day was a privilege.
Among my favorite memories was a visit to Beitel Elementary in Laramie, Wyoming. I specifically remember fielding questions from a room full of eager fifth graders. At one point, I was explaining my job to the kids and mentioned that, ultimately, I worked for them. One student quickly raised his hand and said “if you work for me, can I fire you?” I paused for a moment as soft giggles filled the air. I confessed that, yes he probably could fire me. But I also told him that I really loved my job and I would appreciate it if he would let me stay on until a more qualified person was willing to take my place. He agreed. Thankfully.
I will also never forget my visit to Tongue River Elementary School. Principal Ryan Fuhrman (who is also the State Board Chairman) gave me a proud tour of his school as the autumn sun settled behind the Big Horns. Afterwards, we sat in his office and chatted about schools, leadership and communities. We traded funny ‘principal’ stories and we talked about how lucky we were to live and serve in Wyoming.
Whether I was touring schools, visiting with teachers, speaking to aspiring educators at the University of Wyoming, testifying before a legislative committee or rolling up my sleeves alongside the heroes that work at the Wyoming Department of Education, I hope I served in a way that made you proud.
As I move into my next chapter, I want to encourage Wyoming to continue fighting for thriving schools. Our kids are counting on us to equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to chase their American dreams. In my view, there is no better place to do that than Wyoming.