#WyoStrong stories, brought to you by Wyoming Community Bank, highlight Wyoming perseverance, ingenuity, creativity and resilience.

 

Melissa Denton of Lander is a busy mom of four, insurance agent, blogger and because that’s not enough, part of planning Wyoming’s first annual School Fair..

She moved to Wyoming in 2012, but prior to that, she was a writer in Colorado.

Melissa went through a journey from fostering two kids ages 6 and 22-months-old to adopting them. Today they’re 14 and 10 years old.

Melissa with her two adopted children, on the day their adoption was finalized.

Melissa wrote about her experience online. In 2007, blogging was still an online phenomenon and not the norm, so she was also something of a blogging pioneer and wrote for various websites. During that time she made some amazing contacts, including Mary-Frances Main, the founder of a highly successful parenting site called Denver Parent.

After marrying Lander native, Gary Michaud, who brought two kids of his own into the relationship, Melissa opened Wind River Wireless on Lander’s Main Street. If you lived in Lander when the store was open, you might remember her customer appreciation events. Everybody loves hotdogs and good conversation and Melissa did them right.

“It was a lot of fun and I loved all my customers, but it was all-consuming and I needed to focus on my family. Wyoming is such an amazing place to raise kids – and I felt like I was missing out on that to some extent,” she says. She closed the store in 2015 and started with Tegeler & Associates later that year.

Meanwhile, her love for family and Wyoming wasn’t missed by her blogging friends back in CO. Melissa hadn’t been in Wyoming long before Mary-Frances Main reached out about a new project: Wyoming Parent.

Melissa’s son and daughter and her stepsons on a quiet Christmas break evening at home.

Melissa shared that, “she [Mary-Frances] was part of a group of rock star writers in CO that I had the pleasure of befriending first virtually and then in real life. Denver Parent is a huge success but she always dreamed of launching in Wyoming (she was born in Cheyenne).”

So Wyoming Parent was born with Melissa as the Manager Editor, contributing articles and keeping up with social accounts and local opportunities. The project wasn’t an immediate success because Melissa wasn’t able to dedicate a lot of time to it at first. Owning a business and being a parent kept her from focusing on the new brand.

Recently though, Melissa says they’ve “dusted off the cobwebs” and are relaunching Wyoming Parent with more contributors across Wyoming and a push on social media – and the brand is getting noticed.

Wyoming Parent was contacted by the National School Choice organization about hosting an event coinciding with National School Choice Week. As we do here in Wyoming, Wyoming Parent agreed and stepped up to put together Wyoming’s very first School Fair in Cheyenne on Saturday, January 19th.

Melissa has assisted Mary-Frances and others from Denver Parent in organizing the School Fair, which is expecting over 1,000 attendees including State Superintendent of Education Jillian Balow who will speak and hold a Q&A session. Schools from across the state in every sector will be represented, including traditional public schools, public charter schools, private schools and online schools.

A directory of statewide options will be handed out at the fair.

“We are excited about sharing Wyoming’s education options and how its schools are changing to meet the unique needs of various communities,” Melissa said in a media release about the event. “Some districts offer schools that meet four days a week for 10 hours and have developed tailored after-school programs to serve K-12 students. Online education and homeschooling are important tools in this state where kids may face commutes to school for as much as three hours.”

Melissa hopes that the Wyoming School Fair will help to continue the dialogue about education with parents across the state. Thanks to Wyoming Parent, now there’s an online community geared towards parents, which can support that mission.

For Melissa, the fair and parenting brand are part of a passion tied to this place we all call home. “It’s an honor to a Wyoming Parent; I’m deeply grateful I get to raise my kids here and love sharing our experiences with others here in the 307 and beyond.”

The First Annual Wyoming School Fair is free to attend and will feature activities and entertainment for kids in addition to opportunities to learn about education options in Wyoming. The Fair will be held this Saturday, January 19th from 10am3pm at the Little America Hotel and Resort in Cheyenne. The event is being held as part of National School Choice Week, which begins on January 20th. You can learn more on the event’s website