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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


February 22, 2003 - Issue 81


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Dr. Begay brings home state award

by Rosanda Suetopka Thayer TCUSD Public Relations
credits: Photo courtesy of Tuba City Unified School District

Dr. Harold G. BegayPhoenix — Tuba City Unified School District has certainly had a recent outpouring of notoriety and success, but this time it's not a student award.

Instead it is the prestigious honor of Administrator of the Year for Associate Superintendent Dr. Harold G. Begay from the Arizona Association of Gifted and Talented. On Feb. 6, he was recognized for his outstanding work from the AAGT in Phoenix at its annual conference.

Dr. Begay is a nationally recognized researcher for work in the neuroscience-multiple intelligences area and a longtime advocate for Native American gifted and talented student activity.

But this is not all that makes Dr. Begay unique.

Dr. Begay is a homegrown, nurtured "walking encyclopedia" born and raised in Tuba City, at the heart of the Navajo reservation. He is a direct product of the Tuba City District school system, K through12, and an exemplary academic role model who happens to be native.

Dr. Begay has partnered with researchers from notable educational institutions such as University of California Berkeley, Stanford, University of Arizona and Arizona State University in the area of brain cognition, using multiple intelligences to achieve more personalized curriculum, instruction and assessment.

With more than 500 participants attending a statewide conference, AAGT was formed in 1974 by a dedicated group of parents and teachers who saw the need for unified voice to represent Arizona's gifted children. It provides information and guidance to parents, teachers, administrators and legislators to develop and support gifted education.

AAGT follows much of noted gifted and talented Harvard educated guru, Howard Gardner.

Gardner has published more than 18 books and hundreds of articles on multiple intelligence and giftedness. He is also the director of Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, which introduced the theory of multiple intelligences in 1983.

The shorthand version of what multiple intelligence means "is a psychological theory about the mind. It's a critique of the notion that there is only a single intelligence that we're born with, which can't be changed and which psychologists can measure. It's based on a lot of scientific research in fields ranging from psychology to anthropology to biology. It's not based upon test correlations, which most other intelligence theories are based on."

Gardner believes that firstly, "all human beings have all of these intelligences. It's part of the human species definition. The second, that because of genetics and environment, no two people have exactly the same profile of intelligences, not even identical twins because different experiences have an impact on intelligence."

Gardner's theory of the nine intelligences that have been listed to date as: linguistic, mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, interpersonal and interpersonal, naturalist and lastly, existential.

He was born in 1943 to parents who were Nazi war refugees, and music played a very important part of his early educational development. Much recent educational research discusses how much music stimulates brain growth and activity.

Most Natives Americans have an early musical influence, with native traditions and oral history a major part of reservation households.

Since native language and musical influence has a lot to do with how natives learn, Dr. Begay has had a focused interest in how these two activities has and continues to influence native brain activity and learning.

It is for this work, that Dr. Begay was recognized and acknowledged by the AAGT.

At the awards presentation, Dr. Begay was also selected to be next year's AAGT's 30th Year Conference Keynote Speaker. This year featured Dr. James Delisle from Kent State. Dr. Delisle is director for both gifted undergrad and graduate programs at Kent State.

For more information on Dr. Harold Begay, contact TC Public Relation at 928-283-1072.

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