Wyoming’s Superinten- dent of Public Instruction visited Sublette County Friday, Jan. 10, intent on listening to students.
“Initially Superintendent Jay Harnack was going to have students ask me ques- tions,” Balow said. “I said I want to ask the class questions. Too often we look at grownups as the stakeholders and we don’t ask students.”
She submitted four or five questions in advance that she wanted the students pre- pared to answer addressing school safety, civics, relevance of education to future plans and the need for accountability and assessment.
“I wanted a very open dialogue,” Balow said. “My hope was that this was a beta test for possible ongoing sessions at other schools throughout the state.”
Initially, students were quiet with lots of platitudes but began to open up, she said.
“The value of students’ opinions is most profound,” Balow said.
She said students quickly pointed out Pinedale’s strengths including the strong relationships students build with teachers and the many opportunities they have to be active and involved.
She said students also recognize chal- lenges with technology.
“They recognized the need for tech- nology but also saw the drawbacks of not being able to get away from it at home,” she said.
Students identified “adulting skills” they feel are missing in the education program including financial literacy, hands-on ap- plications such as simple auto repairs and cooking or home economics.
“It was nice because the teacher, princi- pal and superintendent were there and able to ask the students when and how students saw those items fitting into the schedule,” Balow said.
The visit included a trip to Big Piney Middle School with First Lady Jennie Gor- don where they saw the school’s successful Second Chance Breakfast that enables stu- dents to grab snacks between classes.