SKC to Double Local Native Teachers

Nov 15th, 1999 | By | Category: 11-2: Teacher Education, Tribal College News

Salish Kootenai College (SKC) has created a partnership with Western Montana College to recruit and graduate Indian students in Elementary Education. Of an approximate pool of 450 teachers on the Flathead Reservation in northern Montana, less than 12 are Native American. The 12 Indian students in the teacher training program at Salish Kootenai College will double that pool within the next two years.

The program is a 2+2 program in partnership with a state institution (Western Montana College), meaning students will attend SKC for two years and then transfer to Western Montana College. All course work is on the SKC campus. Students take Western courses in the evening and on weekends, creating a rather grueling schedule for them, according to Julie Cajune, teacher training program coordinator.

Special curriculum components set it apart from other 2+ 2 programs. During the first two years at Salish Kootenai College, students must take Native American studies classes, including Salish or Kootenai language and history of Indians in the United States. This provides students with content knowledge they would not receive in a standard teacher education curriculum. In addition to integrating these courses into the program, SKC has funded an experimental course that integrates the physical sciences and includes traditional knowledge.

Field experience courses and student teaching take place in reservation schools. The pre-service teachers are taught to watch for specific needs of Indian students and to address the impacts of culture on learning. The pre-service teachers gain valuable experience in observation, reflection, and dialogue about Indian students in the classroom. The program will help fulfill the need for Native teachers in Montana. From 1991-1995, the Montana University System Teacher Education Programs graduated 2,189 students, but only 70 were Indian.

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