Tennessee Watson

Education Reporter

Phone: 307-766-5064
Email: twatso17@uwyo.edu

Tennessee -- despite what the name might make you think -- was born and raised in the Northeast. She most recently called Vermont home. For the last 15 years she's been making radio -- as a youth radio educator, documentary producer, and now reporter. Her work has aired on Reveal, The Heart, LatinoUSA, Across Women's Lives from PRI, and American RadioWorks. One of her ongoing creative projects is co-­producing Wage/Working (a jukebox­-based oral history project about workers and income inequality). When she's not reporting, Tennessee likes to go on exploratory running adventures with her mutt Murray.

Ways to Connect

Tennessee Watson / Wyoming Public Radio

The University of Wyoming (UW) officially launched its controversial new marketing plan with a presentation, Tuesday, to orient staff to the campaign's central slogan: “The world needs more cowboys.” But it’s raised the question: what about more cowgirls?

University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols pushed the need to upgrade aging dorms before the UW Board of Trustees at a recent meeting. She wrapped up her presentation on the implementation of the university’s strategic plan by telling the trustees that housing needs to be a top consideration.

Wyoming Department of Education

The Wyoming Department of Education is collaborating with the University of Wyoming to host the Week of Academic Vision and Excellence (WAVE) conference later this month.

Tennessee Watson

Farmworkers feed us, and to do so they travel around the country following the harvest. For their kids, that means moving from school to school. Wyoming Public Radio's education reporter Tennessee Watson found there’s a system in place to help these students, and brought us a story from North Dakota. To learn more about why we heard about one kid in North Dakota, Morning Edition host Caroline Ballard spoke with Tennessee about her reporting.

Tennessee Watson


Angel, a tall, lanky 14-year-old, dribbles down the basketball court of the school gymnasium in Manvel, North Dakota. Realizing he’s unmarked he goes for the three-pointer. It’s a nice arching shot, but the ball bounces tenuously on the rim and doesn’t go in.

Design: Tennessee Watson

Some colleges and universities do a better job than others at helping graduates advance financially so they can earn more than their parents. That’s according to the Equality of Opportunity Project, which studied anonymous tax data from 1999 to 2013, to create Mobility Report Cards. The project ranks colleges based on their impact on intergenerational mobility -- a term for when kids earn more than their parents.

Pexels

To save the state money, new rules were passed to increase the capacity of classrooms to 25 students for all grades. Statute previously recommended that kindergarten through 3rd-grade classroom capacity be capped at 16, and 4th through 12th grade at 21. Those numbers help determine when the state needs to fund the construction of new schools to accommodate growth.

Tennessee Watson / Wyoming Public Radio

Close to 100 people gathered outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office in Cheyenne Saturday evening to protest the separation of migrant families at the U.S. - Mexico border. The event was organized by Juntos, which means together in Spanish.

Bureau of Land Management

Look no further than the school cafeteria for choice cuts of locally raised meat. The School Nutrition Project, entering its second year, splits the processing costs with districts who receive donated animals from local farmers and 4-H clubs. 

Wyoming Education Association

Many teacher’s unions across the country are reeling from the Supreme Court’s ruling on Janus v. AFSCME; the case deciding whether non-union members have to pay fees to unions to cover contract negotiations.

Tennessee Watson / Wyoming Public Radio

Wyoming is in the process of changing what it takes to get a high school diploma, or what’s more formally known as Chapter 31 rules. In 2015, legislation did away with a tiered diploma system in favor of a more streamlined approach. It’s been a three-year process but the Wyoming Department of Education is hopeful the rules will go into place this summer.

https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5836/

The Badger Creek Fire in southern Wyoming’s Medicine Bow National Forest was downgraded to a Type 3 incident Thursday. That means the fire is less intense and requires less personnel. The fire, which started on June 10 caused the evacuation of several mountain communities. 

https://broadbandmap.fcc.gov/

The Wyoming Broadband Advisory Council meets for the first time next week. The Wyoming Legislature created the council during the 2018 session as a part of an effort to increase access to high-speed internet in unserved areas of the state.

Wyoming Department of Education

The Wyoming Department of Education is currently taking public comment on the Hathaway scholarship, following changes made to the program during the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions.

USDA

Summer break means no tests and no homework, but for low-income kids, that can mean one less meal a day. Over 20 million kids in the U.S. are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals during the regular school year. 

Layout by Tennessee Watson

School staff in Wyoming can now carry concealed weapons, on a district by district basis. A bill passed during the 2017 state legislative session gave school boards the power to decide if guns should be a part of security protocol. So far two communities, Cody and Evanston, have taken advantage of the new law. But in Evanston people like Sheila McGuire are pushing back.

UW Board of Trustees June 13, 2018 Report

The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees approved close to a $500 million budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. That budget includes a $5.5 million allocation for salary adjustments. Eligible staff will see a pay bump in their August paycheck. 

inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5836/

At over 5,000 acres as of Wednesday morning, the Badger Creek Fire continues to grow near the Medicine Bow National Forest in southern Wyoming close to the Colorado border.

Wyoming State Board of Education

Summer break is in full swing, and across Wyoming, high school graduates are rejoicing their accomplishments and preparing for what's next. But who determines what it takes to get that diploma? Wyoming Public Radio's education reporter Tennessee Watson reached out to the Wyoming State Board of Education, who selected vice chair Sue Belish to talk about how statewide standards get created. 

Northern Wyoming Community College District

Northern Wyoming Community College District has announced its campus in Gillette will now be under new leadership. Janell Oberlander has been selected as the new vice president and CEO for Gillette College, replacing Mark Englert.

Wyoming schools are a place of linguistic diversity, and students whose primary language is other than English are guaranteed access to the same academic content as their peers.

The Wyoming Department of Education tracks the progress of English Learners (EL), and provides online resources and face-to-face workshops to support districts.

WDE Consultant Antoinette Hallam said the state has seen a steady increase in such students over the last decade.

“We have about 28 – or 58 percent – of our districts with an increase,” said Hallam.

Tennessee Watson / Wyoming Public Radio

The University of Wyoming Faculty Senate, the administration and the Board of Trustees have reached an agreement on changes to regulations regarding how the university will respond to financial challenges in the future.

WyoTech

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead has agreed to provide a $5 million loan to a private group to keep Laramie’s WyoTech open. The previous owners had planned to close the automotive college. During the 2018 budget session the state legislature supported efforts to keep the school open.

Investigators with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights are conducting interviews this week at the University of Wyoming. They’re following up on complaint filed in 2017 by a student who said her report of sexual assault to UW was not handled properly.

 

Tennessee Watson

Starting next fall, students at the University of Wyoming should find it easier to sequence classes without conflict and complete their degrees.

Tennessee Watson

When the University of Wyoming trustees met last week, the campus was abuzz with concern about proposed changes to the authority of the board. What the administration is calling a routine update to university regulations was seen by some as a power grab that would give trustees the ability to more easily eliminate academic programs and ax faculty.

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