FBC teacher training produces first graduate

May 13th, 2011 | By | Category: 22-4: Honoring Student Success, Tribal College News
By Rebecca Bishop

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” (Buddhist proverb) For 11 juniors at Fort Belknap College (FBC, Harlem, MT) this proverb will become a reality. They will teach many students who need highly trained, quality teachers who have the heart, wisdom, and inner strength to educate the next generation.

FBC received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education for the Nee-tha-hatsa-nak/Wa’ Uspe-Wicakiya Preparation Program, which is designed to prepare teachers to fill teaching positions in their local area, strengthening the teaching pool in our school districts on tribal lands, and serving as role models for the local area children and community. The tribal college formed a 2+2 partnership with Montana State University (MSU)-Billings.

Ten of the pre-service teachers are a cohort (group) practicing the concept of a Professional Learning Community. Most of them attend MSU-Billings, and one is seeking a secondary education degree from MSU-Northern.

Autumn Azure-Fuzesy graduated in May. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education with a minor in reading, and now she is the first official teacher under the program. She said, “I come from a family of teachers; my mother, Debbie Azure, has been a teacher for 21 years. We both had children and then went to college to get our teaching degrees. I want to be a good example for my kids the way my mom was for us growing up.”

The FBC cohort members took classes at the tribal college to fulfill any missing general education or elementary education program core requirements. They then transferred as juniors last fall to MSU, which delivers the junior/senior level coursework to the FBC campus via interactive TV. This allows the students the stay home and complete their degrees. The support of their family, home community, tribal college, and university staff and faculty all serve to encourage these students as they work to achieve their goals.

FBC Teacher Training Coordinator/ Instructor Annette Young said that most of the students will finish in June 2012. This group of teachers comes from a variety of backgrounds, but the focus to get their teaching degrees has banded them together. “They are so dedicated to becoming teachers; it has taken a lot of commitment on their part. This program is not easy, it takes a lot of focus and time away from family and their personal lives but they do so and they are doing it well.”

For more information, contact Annette Young at ayoung@mail.fbcc.edu.

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