Category archive

Education - page 2

Two Wyoming Teachers Receive National Recognition For Work In Science, Math

in Education/Good news/News
Arming teachers

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Two Wyoming teachers recently received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

President Donald Trump announced Monday that teachers in Thermopolis and Jackson were among the nation’s 2019 winners, according to a news release from the Wyoming Department of Education.

Aimee Kay, a science teacher at Thermopolis Middle School, and Jennifer Kelley, a math teacher at Jackson Hole High School, were the Wyoming recipients this year.

The award is the highest recognition that K-12 mathematics, science or computer science teachers can receive in the United States. Nominations and awards are facilitated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation.

“The PAEMST award is an honor that has already connected me with a network of exceptional teachers around our state who are willing to share ideas and collaborate, inspiring my continued growth,” Kay said in the news release. “I look forward to connecting with STEM teachers nationally as well. It has validated my efforts as I prepare the next generation of scientists and problem solvers to make the world a better place. Through it, I have also gained more confidence in my methods and a rejuvenated sense of purpose and passion.” 

“This award inspires and encourages me to continue on my amazing journey as an educator,” said Kelly, who teaches Algebra, AP Calculus AB and AP Calculus BC at JHHS. “ It recognizes my desire to provide the best opportunities for all students to advance their knowledge and excitement in mathematics. It recognizes my desire to provide the best opportunities for all students to advance their knowledge and excitement in mathematics. Being able to help young adults figure out how to self-advocate and become lifelong learners is very rewarding. I am fortunate to work with incredible students and colleagues who continue to motivate me to strive for excellence.”

Each year, up to six finalists in each state are chosen for the award through a rigorous peer review process. The applications are forwarded to the National Science Foundation, where the final selection for the national Presidential Award is made.

Enacted by Congress in 1983, the program authorizes the President to award 108 math and science teachers each year in recognition of their contribution to excellent teaching and learning.

“Aimee and Jennifer set the gold standard when it comes to teaching math and science to students,” Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said in the news release. “It is befitting that they are being recognized for this prestigious honor.”

Awardees come from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools and schools in four U.S. territories.

Each awardee will receive a certificate signed by Trump and a $10,000 award from NSF. Awardees will also travel to Washington, D.C., for a ceremony at a future date.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Balow: Learning In Wyoming Schools Will Look Different This Year

in Coronavirus/Education/News

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow expects school life in Wyoming’s 23 districts to be a completely new experience once classes resume later this month.

This will be due to not only the coronavirus pandemic, but also each district’s individualized response to the new state health guidelines.

Balow said as much during an interview on KGAB radio Monday morning with Cheyenne radio host Glenn Woods.

The Wyoming Department of Education has adopted only a few new rules aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus, such as requiring social distancing and the use of face masks, but it is making multiple suggestions to the various school districts regarding reopening plans, Balow said.

Districts will be allowed to make their own decisions when it comes to school bus routes, cafeterias and other activities, she said. They can also decide how they will deliver classes and whether or not there will be a mix of online and in-person courses as health orders are updated.

“We might end up seeing an increased number of bus routes and spacing out when the buses can leave because they need to be cleaned,” Balow said during the interview. “As for cafeterias, students may end up eating in classrooms, or there might be staggered lunch schedules. It’s just going to depend on the school, because a district like here in Laramie County is going to look different from a rural one.”

Balow also expects a bit of a catch-up period for students, both academically and socially. However, she’s grateful that students who might come from a background of maltreatment will return to a safe environment at school.

“Some kids took to an alternative learning environment really well and others didn’t, for various reasons,” she said. “But then we had some students who were hard to reach, and those were the ones who kept us up at night. So we could definitely be dealing with some academic gaps and ones caused by severe trauma.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Agencies To Provide 500K Masks To State School Districts

in Coronavirus/Education/News

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Three Wyoming state agencies have partnered to deliver 500,000 face coverings to school districts across the state.

The Wyoming Office of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and the Department of Education will provide cloth face coverings, according to a news release from the WDE. This will help school districts meet safety needs for reopening schools this fall.

Current state public health orders require face coverings in schools when 6 ft. of physical distancing isn’t practical.

“This pandemic has required state and local collaboration between public and private entities at a level that has not existed in the past,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow in the news release. “As a result, we’re seeing incredible partnerships formed that will hopefully remain permanent. The delivery of these face coverings is one of many accomplishments arising out of these strong state and private partnerships”

WDH/WOHS identified these face coverings as a potential resource for schools. This resource was obtained by WDH/WOHS through FEMA.

Ongoing procurement activities are a joint effort between these agencies as they continue to pursue critical supplies to support Wyoming’s communities. The masks will be distributed in early August to school districts across the state through the partnership between WDH/WOHS and county emergency management.

“We are grateful for this opportunity to assist WDE in its efforts to reopen schools in a safe and timely manner,” said WOHS Director Lynn Budd in the release. “The Wyoming Office of Homeland Security, the Wyoming Department of Health and other state and local agencies are coordinating efforts to distribute the face coverings to each county emergency manager.  Each emergency manager will in turn coordinate with their local school districts to arrange for distribution of the face coverings.” 

WDH recommends people wear cloth face coverings in public settings where it is not possible or reasonable to stay physically apart.

“We know some individuals can transmit the virus to others before they feel or show any symptoms. It’s also becoming increasingly clear the virus spreads mainly between people when they are close to each other. Cloth face coverings have been effective in helping to block the spread of the virus,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

New Study Ranks Wyoming School System 19th In Nation

in Education/News

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

High test scores helped put Wyoming’s public schools among the top half in the nation in a new ranking of the country’s best and worst school systems by personal finance site WalletHub.

The personal finance website ranked Wyoming 19th nationally for its schools, a ranking based on both the quality of education and the “safety” of the schools.

The ranking placed Wyoming in 18th place nationally for the quality of its schools, referencing high math and reading test scores.

The study said Wyoming had the fifth-highest scores in the nation in both tests.

The quality of education made up 80% of the rankings and also considered items such as dropout rates, graduation rates, median ACT and SAT scores and teacher to student ratios.

The remaining 20% of the ranking was determined by the safety of schools, where Wyoming placed 29th.

The state did not place either among the top or bottom states on any of the factors considered for safety rankings, which included the percentage of high school students who have been threatened or injured and the rate of bullying.

Utah placed ahead of Wyoming in the survey at 18th place, while Maine followed in 20th.

First place for its quality of schools was claimed by Massachusetts. The study placed New Mexico schools at the bottom of its list.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Powell’s Northwest College Prepares For Return of Students

in Coronavirus/Education/News

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

At Northwest College in Powell, staff are preparing offices, classrooms and dorm rooms for the return of students on Aug. 19, even though officials are not sure how many students will show up for the fall semester.

West Hernandez, Enrollment Services Director at Northwest, said numbers for the fall semester are changing from week to week.

“It’s challenging to get an accurate picture,” he said. “You know, we have a good population of international students here at Northwest, and we don’t know what that’s gonna look like. And we have students who are just, and rightfully so, apprehensive about a large group of people coming to campus. So there is some talk about students nationally taking a gap year.”

Hernandez said he certainly understands why students are wary.

“We don’t know what this fall’s going to look like in many ways,” he said. “So you’re giving students information at this current time, with them hoping to make a decision, and sometimes you can’t give them everything.”

Hernandez said the college is still working out the details of what campus life will be like this fall — looking at a combination of online classes with in-person classes that would be held only with the appropriate safety measures in place.

“Students will have the opportunity to go to class in person at times, but also join us via Zoom for that live interaction,” he said.

Campus officials are making sure that Northwest College students are as safe as possible when school does start again this fall — that includes making mask-wearing mandatory for students and staff.

“We’re asking students and staff to wear masks while on campus, especially in those close quarter areas,” he noted. “You know, if you’re within 6 feet of somebody, it is going to be a requirement.”

Hernandez said the college’s staff is being diligent about cleaning facilities, but added students will need to do their part.

“We’re going to need the students’ help in following orders, monitoring how they’re feeling every day, and all those pieces. It’s definitely going to be a different fall semester than normal.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Central Wyoming College Unveils Reopening Plan For Fall

in Coronavirus/Education/News

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Central Wyoming College, which has four campuses across the state, will transition from virtual learning back to in-person instruction for the fall term, officials have announced.

CWC has released its general guidelines for college operations in Lander, Dubois, Jackson and Riverton. Classes are slated to begin Aug. 24.

While the school year will begin with in-person instruction, all courses will shift to remote learning for the week between the end of the Thanksgiving break and the end of the fall term on Dec. 4, the college’s plan said. The plan is similar to the one in place for the University of Wyoming’s reopening.

The plan also said the college expects a chance that the campuses will see students, visitors or employees who have been exposed to or contracted the virus. Enhanced cleaning protocols and social distancing guidelines will be implemented for the fall semester, the plan said and it warned that short-term “rolling closures” might be implemented if virus activity picks up.

Signs will be placed throughout the four campuses letting students, employees and visitors know they should stay home if they’re experiencing any coronavirus-like symptoms, urging them to practice social distancing and to wear a mask when in common areas.

All employees and students will have to submit to a health screening when using any CWC facility. Seating and equipment in the college facilities, including its classrooms, will be removed, moved or clearly labeled to maintain 6 feet between individuals.

No gatherings larger than 50 people will be allowed indoors. Phone and email interactions will be encouraged, and when in-person meetings occur, they will be scheduled using the Google Calendar function to assist with contact tracing, if necessary.

No self-service food options, such as buffets or salad bars, will be available at any of the campus facilities.

If federal coronavirus relief funds are available to campuses, some of the money will be used to pay for or partially reimburse students for internet service subscriptions or mobile hotspots for students who are remote learning from home, the plan said.

Non-athlete student residents on campus will be assigned one person per dorm room and no guests will be allowed except in designated areas. Five rooms, with private bathrooms, will be reserved in the event a student needs to be quarantined or isolated.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Powell’s Northwest College President Says “Everything” Is Up For Review

in Education/News

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

All programs at Northwest College in Powell will be up for review as the college tries to cut spending in the face of declining revenue, its president said Friday.

Stephanie Hicswa responded in a prepared statement to an announcement that Sheridan College and Gillette College would eliminate their athletic programs, except for rodeo, to reduce spending by $2.8 million.

Hicswa said she was sure the decision was not an easy one.

“The recent decision … was no doubt difficult and painful for all involved,” she said. “Our hearts go out to those employees and athletes, and indeed those communities who love their Generals and Pronghorns as much as we love our Trappers.”

Hicswa noted the state is facing a $1.5 billion drop in revenues over the next two years and that community colleges have been asked, along with every other state entity, to look at ways to cut spending.

She did not rule out cuts to the college’s athletic program, but said every area of the college will have to be reviewed for possible cuts.

“Know that we will be carefully analyzing and thoughtfully discussing which cuts will make the most sense for us and we will be communicating those decisions as transparently as possible,” she said.

Hicswa said the college plans to ask its trustees, who meet July 6, to let it use some of its carryover funds from this fiscal year to maintain programs at current levels for the next year.

“This will give us the time we need to be thoughtful and strategic in our budget cuts next year,” she said.

Without new revenue sources, however, the college will have to reduce its services, she added.

“We ask the communities we serve to begin embracing the idea that without new revenue streams, NWC will simply not continue to be funded at the same level as in the past,” she said. “Difficult budget decisions are on the horizon and we ask for your patience and compassion as we work through these difficult decisions together.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Gillette, Sheridan Colleges Will Save $2.8 Million By Scrapping Athletic Programs

in Education/News

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The elimination of most athletic programs at colleges in Sheridan and Gillette will save those colleges $2.8 million, according to officials.

Officials with the Northern Wyoming Community College District, which encompasses both Sheridan College and Gillette College, said in a news release the cuts were part of a needed $3.96 million reduction in spending.

All eight of Wyoming’s community colleges are looking at spending cuts as they prepare their budgets for the coming year. However, one college, Casper College, specifically rejected the idea of cutting athletic programs.

Northern Wyoming Community College District trustees declared a financial emergency on June 18 due to the impacts from the coronavirus pandemic as well as imminent cuts to ongoing funding from the state.

The colleges have discontinued their men’s and women’s basketball, soccer and volleyball programs to save $2.8 million. The rodeo teams from both schools will continue, although with significantly reduced budgets.

“This decision was far from easy and definitely not something we wanted to take away from our student-athletes. However, we simply cannot maintain a vision that includes full-time coaches, full-ride athletic scholarships coming from our general fund, and expensive recruitment and travel,” said Walter Tribley, the district’s president.

Tribley said in the release that the long-term goal is to eventually bring back additional athletic opportunities at the Division III level of the National Junior College Athletics Association. The teams for both colleges had been competing in Division I of the NJCAA.

In addition to athletics, cuts were made to the district’s administration, two academic programs and the campus police departments.

The programs, culinary arts and hospitality management, will be discontinued and the district won’t fill several open administrative and staff positions and will implement reorganizations that will equal the savings of seven full-time positions. These cuts to the programs and administration total $500,000.

Sixteen positions were also eliminated.

The campus police departments will transition to a more “traditional format,” resulting in a $260,000 cut. Travel will be limited to essential trips only, which will result in $400,000 in savings.

“The changes we will be making as a district that yield the greatest ongoing savings were selected not because they were failing in any way,” Tribley said. “They were selected because the annual cost of the programs versus the annual revenue generated by those programs make them unsustainable during this time of financial crisis.”

All scholarships will be honored and students enrolled in discontinued academic programs will have the chance to complete their degree requirements. All athletes will be released from their commitments to the community college district.

“Our number one priority is our students. While these decisions will impact some students directly, it is the best way forward for our District to minimize negative impacts to the majority of our students,” said Tribley. “We look forward to continuing to provide an affordable, transferable high-quality education for all.”

Casper College officials, contacted by Cowboy State Daily, said they had no plans to take such action.

“Casper College remains committed to continuing our strong tradition of collegiate sports and is looking forward to bringing back our student athletes in volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball and rodeo,” Chris Lorenzen, the college’s director of public relations, said in a statement. “In addition, we are very excited to kick off our inaugural season of men’s and women’s soccer.”

Lorenzen said the college continually monitors the cost of its athletic programs to make sure they can continue uninterrupted.

“Finally, we are aware of the financial costs of athletic programs and continually monitor expenses to ensure the financial benefits of enrolling student athletes as well as the student life and student experience benefits of our athletic programs remain sustainable,” his statement said.

Phone calls to the Northern Wyoming Community College Commission were not immediately returned.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Schools Receive $32.5M in Federal Funds

in Coronavirus/Education/News
Jillian Balow Education School Safety Senate File 64

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s schools will receive more than $32.5 million in coronavirus relief from the federal government, Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow has announced.

Balow announced last week that the funds are Wyoming’s share of $13.2 billion allocated to elementary and secondary schools across the country as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

The money will give Wyoming school districts emergency funds to address the impacts of the coronavirus on schools across the state. 

“We are grateful for these timely funds,” Balow said in a news release. “Wyoming education should not go ‘back to normal.’ School districts and schools will utilize the … funds to make schools more nimble and safer in the face of a resurgence or future pandemic.”

School buildings across the state remain closed as students continue to take lessons from home. Several school districts have already decided not to open their buildings back up during this school year.

The federal money should be used to make up for any educational shortfalls that may have occurred while students spent the last several months of school at home, Balow said.

“We should spend these dollars to fill education gaps created by COVID-19 school closures and strengthen our education system,” she said.

Balow: April 6 Is Deadline for Continuing Wyoming Education Plan

in Coronavirus/Education/News
Jillian Balow Education School Safety Senate File 64

Wyoming’s schools will have until April 6 to develop a plan for the continued education of their students in the face of a new state order extending the closure of schools for two weeks, according to Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow.

Balow, in a news release Friday, said each school district must have its “Adapted Learning Plan” approved by the state Department of Education by April 6 to continue receiving state funds.

Gov. Mark Gordon and Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s health officer, on Friday announced the state would extend until April 17 the orders closing the state’s schools. The orders had originally been set to end on April 3.

The state’s school districts have been working on plans to offer remote education to students online since the school closures began in mid-March. Balow praised the efforts by the districts to provide for their students.

“School doors may be closed to students, but Wyoming education is open for business,” Balow said. “The desire by teachers to connect with their students and provide learning opportunities has been inspiring. Teaching and learning while practicing social distancing is a new concept for many. Teachers, parents, and students all need support in order for it to be successful.” 

Go to Top