By Jeff Rebitski, Staff Writer

With summer upon us and the kids out of school, you might think that teachers and administrators are relaxing by the pool somewhere or fishing in one of the marvelous lakes or streams here in Wyoming, but that could not be further from the truth. 

With plans being made for the coming year, few of these academic professionals are relaxing as they dig deep into their collective knowledge to restore the vibrance to education for the students and parents returning in the fall, just a few short weeks from now. 

State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Brian Schroeder made some statements related to the “Laser Focus” that teachers and Administrators have as they plan for the coming year. 

“Because of the inherently independent character of the Wyoming people, our state and our schools are poised to lead the nation in education on several fronts: (1) remaining focused like a laser beam on the purpose of education, which is rooted in its long-standing and timeless purpose, summed up in four words: ‘to learn to think;’ (2) the priority of education, which is represented by the three key parties of education: parents, teachers and students, and that crucial relationship between each; and (3)  the purview of education, which is about state sovereignty and local control.” 

In his “Spotlight” section, Superintendent Schroeder, spoke of the program that is imbedding financial focus in kids as young as 9 years old. He posted… “Financial literacy is critical to a successful transition from high school to the ‘real world.’ At Cloud Peak Elementary in Buffalo, they start them early. Cloud Peak fourth grade teacher Jamie Irish recently shared highlights of the school’s Mini Bank system with the Wyoming State Board of Education. Started in 2016, the bank currently has 202 active accounts between its elementary and middle school customers. The bank is a collaboration between the school and First Interstate Bank in Buffalo, and savings accounts offer 4% interest up to $10,000 in a student’s account. Interest paid on amounts over $10,000 is applied at the bank’s regular interest rate.

Every Wednesday is ‘bank day’ and you’ll see students come to school early just to submit their deposits (imagine that). Fifth grade Mini Bank directors are in place and prepared to receive the students’ deposits, provide a receipt and reports on how their money is doing. The Mini Bank is only available through eighth grade, after which they open a standard savings account with First Interstate Bank or move their money elsewhere. Although the system does help students grow a little nest egg, the biggest perk of the Mini Bank is that students learn about money and finances through experience. Thank you Jamie and Cloud Peak Elementary school, you’re in the spotlight this week for empowering your students to take ownership of their financial future.”

With summer activities in full swing, the educators, who in the last couple of years, have had to reinvent their methods and delivery tools, are eagerly awaiting the chance to restore a sense of “normal” to their classrooms.  Karen Olsen, administrator of Trinity Lutheran School, in Riverton, States “we really tried to remain as normal as possible this past year and so this year, we will focus on bringing classes back together for recess and lunch. The curriculum never changed and with the help of parents, we were able to deliver our curriculum with fidelity.” With a total of about 60 children expected next year, it is important for the socialization of kids to be with peers. 

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