OLC Offers Master’s for Administrators

Nov 15th, 2000 | By | Category: 12-2: Land is Life, Tribal College News

Dawn Brave Eagle is one of a small but growing number of American Indian school teachers who are working on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. She teaches third grade students at Pine Ridge Elementary School, where one in four teachers is Native.  Now, with a new program at her reservation’s tribal college, Brave Eagle can pursue the master’s degree required for her to become a certified school principal.

Oglala Lakota College has won state certification for the first master’s degree program in the nation that offers a Native culturally-based curriculum in educational administration. The tribal college’s program includes four other tribal colleges in the state.

“This is an historic moment for our tribe and college,” said Tom Shortbull, Oglala Lakota College president. The program is designed to address the critical shortage of Native school principals. In 27 reservation schools, only seven certified principals are Native. It was initiated with $750,000 from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “Our graduates will re-mold our reservation schools by incorporating Lakota culture into a teaching philosophy that promotes authentic learning for our children,” said Lynda Earring, Ed.D., director of graduate programs at Oglala Lakota College. She is one of only three Native Americans working in Pine Ridge who have Doctor of Education degrees.

OLC’s program also will impact school systems on other reservations and across the state, according to Earring. The tribal college partners include Sinte Gleska University, Sisseton Wahpeton Community College, Si Tanka College, and Sitting Bull College.

The program began in 1999 as a collaboration with the University of South Dakota. The first educational master’s degree courses were offered at Oglala Lakota and at Sitting Bull College, which has a campus in McLaughlin. Currently, there are 13 students enrolled in the program, with many more eligible. The new program will support the professional development needs of tribal college faculty and reservation school teachers for graduate-level courses. Now, Oglala Lakota leaders hope to expand the degree program to the doctoral level.

The Kellogg Foundation helped launch OLC’s first master’s degree with a grant in 1988. There are currently a total of 42 graduate students at the tribal college.

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