Tribal Colleges Tackle Native Educator Shortage

Nov 15th, 2009 | By | Category: 21-2: K-12 Education, Winter 2009, Tribal College News

Education programs at five tribal colleges and universities and six non-tribal schools have been selected to receive a total of nearly $3.8 million to recruit and graduate new American Indian teachers and school administrators, according to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

The grants are designed to address the critical shortage of qualified American Indian teachers and administrators in schools serving Indian students. In Montana, for example, only 2.5% of the teachers are Indian. Research has shown a relationship between the lack of Indian teachers and K-12 Indian students’ low academic achievement and high dropout rates, according to Cindy O’Dell of Salish Kootenai College. There is also a need for culturally responsive curriculum and research-based instructional and assessment practices.

Fort Belknap College (FBC, Harlem, MT) received $384,670 for its project, which also involves Fort Peck Community College (FPCC, Poplar, MT). They will each establish a cohort of teacher education students to move into a bachelor’s degree program at Montana State University-Northern in Havre, MT. They plan to recruit, train, and graduate 30 American Indian pre-service teachers who will earn their bachelor’s degrees and state teaching licensure. During the fourth year, the tribal colleges will help transition students into teaching jobs, according to Deborah His Horse Is Thunder.

Nebraska Indian Community College (NICC, Macy, NE) received $126,806. NICC will provide resources and professional development to 10 Native American pre-service students to

complete Bachelor of Arts Degrees in Early Childhood Education through the University of Nebraska at Kearney. The degree will be taught on each of the three NICC campuses, according to Ardis Eschenberg-Bad Moccasin, Ph.D., the academic dean at NICC. The university will deliver upper division course work through a variety of alternate delivery methods.

Oglala Lakota College (OLC, Kyle, SD) received $358,264 to increase the pool of American Indian principals with full state licensure and fill positions in schools with Indian students on or near reservations in North and South Dakota. The project will develop a sustainable, quality educational administrator master’s program. OLC hopes to prepare 21 principals to administer schools with Indian students by maintaining accreditation in two states and increasing distance learning.

Salish Kootenai College (SKC, Pablo, MT) received $360,946. SKC will partner with the University of Montana to provide graduate courses in Special Education and Educational Leadership (master’s degrees that can lead to certification in either special education or principal endorsement). They plan to graduate 20 American Indians with a Special Education Endorsement and five Native Americans for a Principal Administration Endorsement.

Sinte Gleska University (SGU, Mission, SD) received $355,832 to support and train 20 American Indians. Of those, five will complete a Master’s Degree in Education Administration at Sinte Gleska and receive state certification as a principal in South Dakota. Fifteen will complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and receive state certification as a teacher in South Dakota. The project guides students

through a culturally relevant, academically vigorous, and personally sustaining program, according to Cheryl Medearis.

The grant awards are part of the Office of Indian Education’s Professional Development program, which trains qualified individuals to become teachers and administrators in Indian communities.

For more information about Indian education, see the Office of Indian Education website at offices/list/oese/oie/index.html. For information about the SKC program, contact Cindy O’Dell by phone (406) 275-4752 or email For information about the NICC program, contact Ardis Eschenberg-Bad Moccasin by phone

(402) 837-5078, ext. 2582, or email For information about the SGU program, contact Cheryl Medearis by email Cheryl.Medearis

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