What I Intend to Do with My Education

May 15th, 1998 | By | Category: Student 1998
By Nichole McClure

I am in my third year at Salish Kootenai College and am majoring in Elementary Education. Attending college has challenged me to look at my life and my future from a new per­spective and has raised my self-esteem. For a period in my life I felt very inadequate, but the classes I’ve taken have given me confidence and I have maintained a 3.8 grade-point average. I am serious about getting a quality education and determined to do well in all of my classes. After being in college, I know that I can deal with anything I put my mind to.

Teaching is not an easy profession. After watching other teachers and instructors, I am well aware of the demands that are placed on those in education. It is my ultimate goal to one day be an Elementary School Teacher. The main reason that I selected this career is that I’d like to become a positive role model for Native American children across the reservation. I think the younger generation needs to have someone positive to look up to as they face the challenges of school.

When I attended high school I had no Native American teachers or models. For exam­ple, we put together a so-called “Indian Club.” The reason I say that is that our advisor was not Native American, nor was our club president. It seemed to me that it was a popularity contest rather than a place to learn culture. The club taught us little-to-nothing about culture and history. When I look back at the club I realize it was not even an Indian Club; it was an embar­rassment.

Since we did not have any Native American teachers in high school, I had to find my role models in the community and in my mother. She works in an educational setting, and many students look up to her as a mentor. In her work and her life she has always made a point of looking at people in a positive way. She knows how to make people feel good about themselves, and she makes a point of letting her students know that being Indian is nothing to be ashamed of and that it is good to value their cul­ture. I’m proud to have a parent who is so strong and has had such a positive influence on others. When people say I am just like my mother, I feel very proud because those are the characteristics I think of when they say that.

I want young people to be able to come to me when they need help. Hopefully, by my being supportive and understanding, my stu­dents will trust and respect me. I realize that few Native Americans become teachers. This situa­tion makes it very difficult for Native students to succeed in school. I want to become a teacher because I love being around young children.  They are so full of energy. I imagine I will learn as much from them as they learn from me. People need someone who will listen to them no matter what is going on. If I can be a good lis­tener and teacher, I think many students from the reservation will have a better chance of deal­ing with life as they grow older. I will work to teach all students about their culture, whether from the reservation or other areas.

I want my students to have respect for all people, no matter what their race or religion. This is a value that is important to me and one that I think is fundamental to a good education.

My ultimate goal is to become a positive role model for my children and for my commu­nity. I am not an enrolled member of any tribe. However, I am a descendent of two enrolled members, one being the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and the other Blackfeet. I am over one/fourth of Indian blood, but not enough of one kind to be enrolled. I don’t care how much Indian blood is in my body; to me that system of blood degree is categorizing people. I still consider myself Indian and so do most peo­ple in my community. I participate in many cul­tural activities on both reservations and enjoy it all very much. We have a very close family, and I feel fortunate to have such a supportive group standing behind me.

Someday I will be teaching in a class­room of young, bubbly students who have only dreams ahead of them, and I will try my hardest to help them realize their potential. Maybe I can teach them to dream new dreams. If persons are willing to work hard and take action, they can have the life they want. You can make dreams come true. This is one of life’s lessons that I have learned for myself after many years of searching.  My dreams are becoming a reality, and I know that this is truly just the beginning.

Nichole McClure was born and lives in Poison, Montana, on the Flathead Reservation. She is the 26-year-old mother of two sons. Nichole received her Associate of Arts Degree in General Studies at Salish Kootenai College in 1996 and is now working on a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education, with the goal of becom­ing a positive role model for Native American children on the reservation.

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