‘Think Inside the Box’ Part 3: Mind of Wyoming

Members of the Cokeville High School Class of 2020 have fun during a photoshoot. (COURTESY PHOTO/ Sue Richardson)

Body, heart, mind, spirit. Those words have been described as the four parts of the human body. In this four-part series, they will be applied to our great state of Wyoming. This week, we’re going to talk about the mind of Wyoming, focusing on education. (The mind could also include strengths, weaknesses, business and people, but for this article, we’ll examine education). When you are looking for educational opportunities, remember this four-sided, box-of-a-state we live in — think inside the box; think Wyoming.

The Wyoming public school system operates throughout the state. According to ballotpedia.org, “At $15,700, Wyoming had the seventh highest pupil spending in the country during 2013. The national average during that year was $10,700.”

The Wyoming Department of Education reported that high school graduation rates in Wyoming increased for the sixth consecutive year during the 2018-19 school year. Students achieved an “on-time” graduation rate of 82.1 percent in 2018-19, an increase of 0.5% over last year, and the highest under the four-year, on-time, U.S. Department of Education methodology implemented in 2010.

The University of Wyoming, founded in 1886, recently said the summer term courses are being delivered online, but the University of Wyoming will resume in-person classes for the fall 2020 semester. It boasts more than 12,000 students from 50 states and 90 countries.

Wyoming also has an impressive community college network, with 29,486 students in the 2018-19 academic year and averaging 15 students per faculty in the 2018-19 academic year. The community colleges are Casper College, Eastern Wyoming College, Western Wyoming Community College, Central Wyoming College, Laramie County Community College, Northwest College and the Northern Wyoming Community College District, consisting of Sheridan College and Gillette College.

Wind River Tribal College (WRTC) is located in Fort Washakie on the Wind River Indian Reservation. The American Indian Higher Education Consortium’s website reads, WRTC “offers associate degree programs and coordinates with the Sky People Higher Education Program and the University of Wyoming Tri Programs to serve students and individuals who want to further their skills and education. The college generally serves geographically isolated populations that have no other means [of] accessing education beyond the high school level. Wind River Tribal College’s enrollment consists of mostly Northern Arapaho and Pima students.” Wyoming also has the Institute of Tribal Learning at Central Wyoming College.

Continual educational opportunities are offered around the state outside of the organized school settings and include outreach opportunities as well as training within the workplace. The Wyoming State Hospital in Evanston trains permanent employees to be CNAs at no cost to the participants. The University of Wyoming has an Office of Engagement and Outreach with the goal of being the portal of access to UW for the citizens of Wyoming (and beyond) and to coordinate and streamline engagement and outreach efforts to achieve enhanced consistency, follow-through and impact. A useful part of this program would be its events calendar, located online at http://www.uwyo.edu/uw/calendar/. Visitors can subscribe to a weekly email tailored to events, counties or audience of choice.

Wyoming’s institutions diversify teaching instruction to try to reach interested people. The University of Wyoming offers a distance education program. They also offer distance programs for nondegree-seeking students.

Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) offices are located throughout the state with programs tailored to area needs. BOCES offers a wide range of educational opportunities from earning a GED to tarot reading. For example, Uinta BOCES No. 1 has a program called, Empowering Single Mothers, where participants must be a single mother with a child under the age of 18 and be income eligible.

One of the biggest things about a mind, however, is that it must be engaged to learn. That holds true with the mind of Wyoming. Although educational opportunities abound, learners or potential learners (meaning a person who wants to gain knowledge) must make some personal effort to find out about these opportunities.

This may mean reading a newspaper, searching online, looking at bulletin boards in your community, asking those you interact with if they are aware of learning opportunities, talking to your local clergy, going to a local school or BOCES and inquiring. An individual must seek for opportunities; they rarely just fall into your lap from nowhere.

That brings us to this week’s challenge.

Wyoming Mind Challenge:

Here is the third weekly challenge. Identify three learning opportunities that you hear about in the upcoming weeks and then find an opportunity to share at least one of them with one other person. There are some individuals, especially on the younger and older ends of the life spectrum, who may wish to have some assistance in finding opportunities.

You can learn step aerobics at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Kemmerer Recreation Center.

There will be an organizational class taught from 6 to 8 p.m. on July 21. This will be taught by Ginny Rogers, a professional organizer at Organizing and Beyond. Register online at www.kemmereroutreach.com

Want to take online education? Oyster Ridge BOCES can help with 23 online degree programs or eight online certificates that Western Wyoming Community College has to offer. Call 307-877-6958 or email [email protected]

Share what you learn with someone! Or share what you learned by commenting on the Kemmerer Gazette Facebook page or kemmerergazette.com.

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