‘Be comfortable with being uncomfortable’


GUERNSEY – Sixty educators from around the state of Wyoming, including three from the Goshen County School District, converged on Guernsey for the first ever Wyoming Education Leadership Rendezvous put on by the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE).

The WDE partnered with area military service to host the event at Camp Guernsey, giving them a glimpse into aspects of military training alongside recruiters of the Army National Guard and Air National Guard which they could take back to their classrooms when school resume later this month.

“It brought on a lot of challenges and several different purposeful activities throughout the week, taking on different leadership roles and being able to bring it back to how it impacts education in the classroom and in the district,” Lincoln Elementary special education teacher Abby Bruch said.

It was designed for a group called Level Up, which is a cohort of educators to bring the Teachers of the Year from around the state together for a three-day event in Guernsey.

The event included both the 2020 and 2021 cohort since this event was supposed to take place last summer, according to Torrington High School principal Chase Christensen. 

The Goshen County School District sent three educators to the event – Bruch, Christensen and Lincoln Elementary counselor Brenda Lovercheck.

It gave the trio a change to grow as leaders and be challenged.

“I was challenged to see things in different ways, and it’s also cool to be surrounded by 60 other leaders and educators who were recognized for doing great things. It allowed me to take on new roles and maybe do things that I haven’t done before,” Bruch said. “They kept pushing us to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

Coming off a school year where the environment was continuously evolving, the training reinforced a lot of those same ideas.

“If there is anything this last school has taught us anything, it’s definitely to learn how to improvise and adapt to changing conditions,” Bruch said.

Bruch, Christensen and Lovercheck got to experience a firearm simulation, repel down a cliff, go through a paintball course, PT, an escape room style competition and learn about land navigation over unfamiliar territory.

“It gave us challenges that we could overcome together, and that is something as educators, we have to do all the time,” Bruch said. “It provided us with ways to find strength through unity and diversity. We find things individual people are really good at on their own, and this opportunity allowed us to come together with a united purpose and realize that you might be good on your own, but when you are with a group of people that have lots of things they are good at, you can do amazing things together.”

However, the training went further than just helping them become better leaders.

“The idea behind the training from the get-go was to work with teachers and principals, not to just be leaders within the school but to be pushing policy agenda and working with legislators and getting involved more in the department of education in terms of looking at standards and reviewing tests and serving on committees,” Christensen said.

The idea is to ultimately get more educators involved in the decision-making process with input from around the state.

For Christensen, it was about developing an improved relationship with the Air National Guard and the Army National Guard and how they can help THS beyond just providing students with career opportunities.

“They put us each in squads and they did it by area of the state, which allowed us to work with our area recruiters,” he said. “I was able to develop a whole lot better working relationship with our area Air Guard recruiter and having a better understanding of what the Air Guard and Army Guard has to offer, not just in terms of a student career opportunity but some of the aspects that they can come and help our school with during events and through extra supervision or guest speakers. I got to know a lot more about what their capabilities are so we can put them to use in the school for our operations.”

Another big take away for Christensen was the networking opportunities which can be used to improve things inside of the Torrington High School walls.

“As I have experienced throughout the time of working in the Level Up Cohort, the connections I’ve been able to make across the state have been tremendous in terms of having someone I can turn to when I have a question,” Christensen said. “Sometimes it’s really nice to have connections with those teachers across the state that I can bounce ideas off of that might not be within my own building.”

At the end of the three-day experience and looking back on it, it was an eye-opener as the 2021-22 school quickly draws closer.

“You really don’t realize the impact it had on you until it is over and you had a chance to look back and reflecting on what they did and the purpose those activities served and how it relates back to leadership roles in education,” Bruch said.

© 2021-The Torrington Telegram

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