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Published January 17, 2019
The University of Wyoming Trustees Education Initiative (TEI) is positioned to continue its vision to elevate the UW College of Education to the status of a pre-eminent college in professional educator preparation with two recent hires.
Curtis Biggs assumed his role as Enterprise for Elevating Educational Excellence (UW-E4) director Dec. 14, and Chavawn Kelley began her job as TEI’s public relations, outreach and marketing director Dec. 10.
“Biggs was strongly supported by the faculty for his ability to learn quickly, his approachable style, and his desire to help faculty succeed in integrating the college’s current programs and UW-E4 to provide students with pre-eminent educator preparation programs,” says D. Ray Reutzel, dean of the College of Education and executive director of TEI.
“I am thrilled and honored to be part of such a breakthrough educator preparation initiative,” Biggs says. “The TEI and UW-E4 will support, advance and distinguish the College of Education and its students within our state and broader educational arena. This intent aligns well with my professional background and interests in providing and continually improving the complete student educational experience.”
The UW Board of Trustees created the TEI in 2014 to develop innovative and modern methods to ensure UW prepares effective educators for Wyoming. In the years since its inception, six initiatives to advance educator preparation at UW have been approved.
In his role as director of UW-E4, Biggs will guide the implementation of the UW-E4 model and other approved initiatives. His experience in educator professional development and PK-20 startup initiatives will be indispensable in his efforts to put the sophisticated and forward-thinking UW-E4 model into action, Reutzel says.
“The UW-E4 director will have the major responsibility to promote, budget for, implement, integrate, pilot, scale and sustain the UW-E4 model of educator preparation for all of the College of Education's teacher and leader preparation programs,” Reutzel says. “This is a formidable task, and it will take someone with a strong work ethic, ability to collaborate with and support faculty as they transition to this model, and an unparalleled ability to communicate the need for UW-E4 to both internal and external audiences.”
“The biggest challenge of the UW-E4 director role is the range of moving parts,” Biggs says. “This project is unquestionably immense. UW-E4 impacts student experience and success; is responsive to professional and skill development needs of the statewide education community; and must bolster the educator workforce pipeline necessary for local, national and global viability.”
He adds, “Relationships are key to the success of UW-E4. Prioritizing the connection with our faculty and greater Wyoming community, I will be working with established partners and exploring other partnership opportunities as well. I am eager to team up with the College of Education faculty and broader Wyoming education community, who are central to the success of our students, the college and UW-E4.”
Biggs received his bachelor’s degree in communication studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and his master’s degree in international educational leadership from the University of Montana. He is pursuing his Ph.D. in international educational leadership at the University of Montana.
Before his path led him to UW, Biggs gained experience growing and transforming educational programs that were initiated as grant projects into intrinsic and sustainable elements of their institutions. His extensive knowledge on student affairs, international education and workforce development will be key in his efforts to initiate the UW-E4 model at UW and throughout Wyoming.
Kelley earned her bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in Spanish at Auburn University and a Master of Arts in American studies from UW. She comes to TEI from her previous role as a writer and editor for UW Extension and College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications and Technology. She brings with her extensive knowledge and experience promoting educational programs and outreach activities.
The TEI mission is to recommend innovative practices for the College of Education to implement in order to prepare and graduate highly skilled and well-prepared P-12 professional educators. These recommendations are made through extensive evaluation of state needs and national best practices.
Under the vision for the TEI, exceptional P-12 teachers coming out of the College of Education will spread throughout Wyoming's P-12 system, ultimately resulting in high school graduates who are among the most skilled and best educated in the nation. These high school graduates will drive Wyoming's cultural and economic engine into the future.
The Daniels Fund, a private charitable foundation established by cable television pioneer Bill Daniels, has provided major grant support for TEI. The group is dedicated to making life better for the people of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming through its grant program, scholarship program and ethics initiative.