By Tracie Mitchell
Staff Writer 

Bill honoring Estelle Reel moves through Legislature

WORLAND – House Bill 108, a bill to recognize Wyoming’s first female to be elected and to hold the office of state superintendent of public instruction in Wyoming, Estelle Reel, has passed through the House and passed second reading in the Senate Tuesday.

 

March 7, 2018



WORLAND – House Bill 108, a bill to recognize Wyoming’s first female to be elected and to hold the office of state superintendent of public instruction in Wyoming, Estelle Reel, has passed through the House and passed second reading in the Senate Tuesday.

The bill, sponsored by 36 representatives and six senators will designate Jan. 7 as Estelle Reel Day if passed through the Senate. The bill states that, “The day shall be appropriately observed by state and local governments and may be observed in the public schools of the state and by organizations within the state.”

An amendment was added to the bill in the House which states that while Reel was the first woman in Wyoming to hold a state office she was also the second in the country to hold a statewide office. Because of that, according to the bill, “The physical office of the state superintendent of public instruction shall be designated and known as “The Estelle Reel Office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.”


According to wyohistory.org, Reel came to Wyoming in 1886 to be a teacher in Cheyenne after receiving schooling in Boston, Mass., St. Lewis, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. Once in Cheyenne; school board members’ criticism led her to stand up for herself, stating that the school board had no right to dictate where she was allowed to go to church, bought her clothes or lived. By standing up for herself she earned the support of the voters and was elected as school superintendent of Laramie County in 1890.

Just four short years later she was elected to the office of state superintendent of public instruction. Three years after that, according to wyohistory.org, “she successfully parlayed her work as Wyoming campaign coordinator for President William McKinley into a federal appointment as national superintendent of Indian schools. Based in Washington, D.C., she spent 17 of her first 26 months in the field, traveling more than 41,000 miles to visit 49 Indian schools. About 2,000 miles of those travels were by wagon, packhorse or on foot. She was in charge of 250 Indian schools in the U.S., with a combined enrollment of about 20,000 students, and administered a budget of $3 million.

The bill was approved by the House on Feb. 27 with a 42-11-3 vote with Rep. Mike Greear, R-Worland, and Rep. Nathan Winters, R-Thermopolis voting in favor.

 
 

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