Careful dear citizens if you decide to dip your toe into the turbulent pool that is the 24 hours news cycle. It’s ugly out there. The federal government is shut down. Congress appears historically dysfunctional. And the national debt is pinned against the ceiling.
Wyoming isn’t exactly a wellspring of good news either. The running gun battle between State Superintendent Cindy Hill and various members of the Wyoming legislature has resulted in a hailstorm of reports and subpoenas. And op-ed pieces in the Casper and Cheyenne papers continue to condemn the state of education in Wyoming.
Given all of the depressing news and Justin Bieber stories (wait…are those different things?) that seem to be darkening our televisions, mobile devices and radios, I thought you might like something, in the immortal words of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, completely different.
The students, teachers and staff at your local school district have plenty of good news for you:
Pinedale High School ACT scores have been on the rise for the last three years. Our district ranked 24th in the state in 2010, but our ACT scores are now second in the state. And that’s no accident. The teachers and students at PHS have been working extremely hard to make that happen. Congrats to all!
Our teachers continue to do an amazing job of ensuring their students each year. We use a test called the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) to measure annual student growth. The makers of the test state that teachers who have 60% of their students meet or exceed their yearly growth target have a “high growth” classroom. Take a minute to look at the chart on the left and you will see what kind of annual growth results our teachers are getting.
In a matter of two short years, SCSD #1 has gone from a district with minimal technology in the classroom, to one of the most technologically advanced schools districts in Wyoming. Every student in grades 3-12 is issued a mobile device by the district, and students in grades K-2 have access to computer labs and iPads. Our students are now putting this technology to use in the classroom and enhancing their 21st Century skills on a regular basis. And our cloud computing solution means that we have the ability to extend learning to students beyond the classroom, at home and elsewhere.
SCSD #1 has committed to modeling environmental responsibility for our students. In 2012, we partnered with Encana and Pinedale Natural Gas to open the first public/private compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station in Wyoming, and we began the process of converting our bus fleet to CNG. The district now has four CNG buses, and we will continue to transition more of our fleet to CNG each year; and local businesses and government agencies can fuel their vehicles at the public station. In June of 2013, Governor Matt Mead attended the grand opening of the station and filled his vehicle with CNG to help us celebrate this accomplishment.
Pinedale Middle School teacher Dr. Steven Miller is one of three finalists for the Wyoming teacher of the year. I don’t think anybody that knows Dr. Miller is surprised by this. While finalizing his doctoral degree last year, Steve also led our middle school Math Counts team to a state championship. Then he started working with PMS special education teacher Gabe Griffin on an online intervention program for students that are struggling with math.
Last April, our high school art students and PHS art teacher Diane McLean continued a decade of visual arts dominance by winning the statewide “Traveling Trout” Art competition. The last statewide competition of this type, which was held five years ago, was also won by Mrs. McLean and her classes when bears were the centerpiece animal. The trout will be on display around the state before coming home to PHS. The winning bear sculpture, “On Thin Ice” can be seen in the auditorium lobby.
In order to be blog brief, I’ll stop here. In doing so I’ve left out a great many accomplishments by our hard-working students and staff, and for that I’ll apologize in advance. But take heart Pinedale, and maybe turn off the news feed for a few days. The next generation of leaders is doing some great things right here in your own public school system. Stop in and visit a classroom. Or come to a sporting event, band concert, or a play. Just take a minute to get to see what’s going on at SCSD #1. We believe you’ll feel good about your tax dollars at work. You might even have your faith in government renewed. Just kidding about the government part. I’m realistic.