TMCC Takes Multicultural Education on the Road

May 15th, 2012 | By | Category: 23-4: Investing in Education, Empowering Tribal Communities, Tribal College News
By Carmelita Lamb

AND…ACTION. TMCC students Ashley Geisinger and Samantha Keplin are the “Voice of the Turtle Mountains” in a television news “broadcast” at the Minnesota Science Museum.

EDUC 321 Multicultural Education is one of many courses that students must complete to become licensed teachers in North Dakota. At Turtle Mountain Community College (TMCC, Belcourt, ND), however, EDUC 321 is not bound by the limits of a physical classroom. Each year TMCC education faculty and students load up and head out in search of community examples of diversity in education.

This year, 14 students and three faculty members experienced what it means to be an elementary student and/or teacher in an urban classroom. After months of planning, an itinerary was designed to expose TMCC teacher education students to elementary classrooms that serve Native children as well as children from around the world.

One of the first stops was the American Indian Magnet School in St. Paul, MN. This school boasts a rich history in serving Native students from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Besides American Indian and White/Caucasian students, its student body includes children from Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In addition to English, Hmong, Spanish, and Somali languages are commonly spoken by the students. TMCC students were deeply impressed with the rich diversity visualized in the children’s faces in each classroom they entered.

The next stop on this whirlwind tour was the Friends of Minnesota Quaker School in St. Paul. There, Quaker values of peace, justice, simplicity, and integrity are central to the overall philosophy of the school. Each classroom was literally alive with learning; most had reptiles, fish, and birds as permanent residents. The buzz from the children, however, is the real story inside this school. At the Friends School, academics are approached from a student-centered perspective that enlists the creative spirit in the child in all core subject areas.

TMCC students also visited the Science Museum of Minnesota, the Hjemkost Museum of Scandinavian Heritage, and the Little Earth of United Tribes community, a Native American housing and urban development project in St. Paul. Additionally, they indulged in fine arts at the Chanhassen Dinner Theater.

Heading north on its journey back to Turtle Mountain, the bus made a final stop in Onamia, MN on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation to visit the Bug O Nay Ge Shig School and Niigaane Ojibwemowin Immersion Program. This K-6 school is nestled between the lakes and tall trees of northern Minnesota. No English is spoken in the classrooms; it was remarkable how fluent these young students were in their Native (Anishinabe) language. Each school day is ended by passing an eagle feather and giving thanks. TMCC faculty and staff are thankful for the opportunity to have experienced such a meaningful trip and to have been welcomed so graciously by everyone we visited.

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