Teacher Education Workshop Shares Knowledge

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

For the first time ever, teacher education program directors from tribal colleges and universities gathered in July 1999 in Santa Fe, N.M., to trade ideas. A total of 19 colleges were represented, three by their presidents. Some of the colleges just designing their curriculum and others very experienced; Sinte Gleska University began offering accredited bachelor degrees in education more than 13 years ago and now provides education degrees to four other tribal institutions through articulation agreements.

Although tribal colleges and universities share very similar missions and obstacles, they rarely have the opportunity to discuss curriculum and program together due to geographic distances and lack of resources. Participants at the Santa Fe workshop described their programs and brainstormed with one another using both standard and innovative methods such as story telling and early morning walks to establish ties and to inspire their thoughts. Some have resolved difficult issues, such as designing a program that incorporates Native American culture while also meeting state and regional accreditation requirements.

Ben Barney and Dan McLaughlin of Diné College and Karen Swisher of Haskell Indian Nations University coordinated the networking conference, which was organized by the American Indian College Fund and funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. McLaughlin said the collaboration was exciting. “We need to be setting the agenda. What does teacher education driven by tribal priorities look like?” he said. A second workshop was held in October in conjunction with the National Indian Education Association meeting. Organizers hope to continue working together if they can find the resources to do so.

Planning for the workshops began in October 1998 with a grant from the Philip Morris Companies. Since 1995, Philip Morris has been helping to support teacher education at tribal colleges through grants to the American Indian College Fund. The assistance from Kellogg was part of the foundation’s Native American Higher Education Initiative. In 1997, Kellogg committed more than $22 million to its initiative through the year 2001.

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