Mary Jo Chouinard
Rendezvous Elementary School
Fremont County No. 25
Riverton, Wyoming

Mary Jo ChouinardAmong the tasks Mary Jo Chouinard faced early in her principalship at Rendezvous Elementary was to help the small-town school forge a new identity. A reconfiguration turned it into a school serving only grades four and five. That change was unpopular with some staff members and parents. Yet Chouinard quelled the controversy by building a new team spirit. Today, with an enrollment of 391 fourth and fifth graders, the school has strong community support. In fact, parents have raised $30,000 per year in fundraisers throughout Chouinard’s tenure since 2002. To meet the needs of struggling learners, such as the high number with language disabilities, Chouinard worked with her staff to develop instructional interventions, particularly in language arts. As a result, students’ writing proficiency rose from 26 percent to 50 percent in recent years. Besides promoting research-based teaching strategies, Chouinard established a progress monitoring system through which teachers use student assessment data to drive instruction. And students monitor their own progress. “They must know how they are doing,” she says. “After reviewing assessments, students graph their scores and plot progress, which gives them ownership.” Chouinard also has expanded after-school programming. Students can participate in academic enrichment and remediation opportunities as well as community service activities. Chouinard received a B.S. from Eastern Montana College and an M.A. from the University of Wyoming.