“Best Schools on Earth”

21 May 2020

Education and Workforce

By Gazette Assistant Publisher/Editor Nicholas Trandahl

I’m writing this not as a newspaperman or resident of Upton, but as a father of three daughters, one of which is in middle school and one of which is about to embark on her high school years.

I wanted to express in this editorial my sincerest and deepest and gratitude to the Weston County School District #7 (WCSD#7) Trustees, Superintendent Clark Coberly, the principals and faculty of Upton schools, and most especially former Superintendent Summer Stephens for implementing adapted personalized learning in our district for the last several years. In doing so, I believe that our schools here in Upton were set up better than most throughout the State of Wyoming, or even the nation, to tackle the complex and unavoidable challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

During the recent school board meeting on Wednesday night, Superintendent Coberly and the principals reported success among our students and among the Upton faculty in doing what needed done to normalize education as best as they could under these strange and trying circumstances, we’ve all found ourselves in. Day after day, I watched my daughters work on projects and assignments. I watched them communicate with their teachers on a regular basis. I watched them succeed. I watched the food service staff supply an average of 180 lunches a day to Upton children, and Upton bus drivers usher lunches and homework to students that live out of town.

I decided to raise my children in Upton because I know firsthand how wonderful it was to grow up here. We lived in El Paso, Texas when I was in the Army, and fortunately they were too young at that point to enroll in school. When I was out of the Army, raising them in the peace and quietude of Upton was essential. Now, in this current post COVID-19 world we’re all inhabiting, I’m even more thankful I’m raising my girls in Upton. That’s because I’ve watched WCSD#7 become a model for the future of education and an example of what is possible with innovation, fresh thinking, and a willingness to break the confines of a restrictive and outdated mold that education had been locked in for generations.

My youngest daughter isn’t yet old enough for her own 13 years as a K-12 Bobcat, but I can rest easy, even in these un- certain times. I can rest easy because I know she’ll be going to school in Upton.