The Wyoming Department of Education is starting off 2019 with a new chief policy officer. But Kari Eakins is no stranger to K-12 education in the state. Before stepping into her new role, Eakins served as the WDE's communications director for close to four years.
In that role, Eakins also took on policy work. She co-led the team that drafted Wyoming's plan in response to new federal education guidelines under the Every Student Succeeds Act. She also serves as the WDE's liaison to the State Board of Education.
A graduate of a Wyoming public schools, Eakins said she's excited to give back.
"I am very proud of the opportunities that I've been given just as a result of being educated in a very small town in Wyoming and I know the way that's opened up doors for me," said Eakins. "And I'm excited to impact decisions and policy that will open doors for students that are in our schools right now."
On the top of her policy list are two things. One is the statewide implementation of computer science education.
"And then also the state system of support is one that I'm very excited about," said Eakins. "Especially now that we are looking at data in new ways because of the changes that have been made to our assessment and accountability system."
Eakins said she's excited to, "really take a look at which schools are excelling and which ones need help to do better, and exploring the best ways to do that."
Former chief policy officer, Megan Degenfelder, stepped down from the position to work in legislative affairs for a private company in the oil and gas industry. Degenfelder served as chief policy officer for a little over a year before Eakins took over this week.