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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


March 6, 2004 - Issue 108


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School News


gathered by Vicki Lockard


The information here will include items of interest for and about Native American schools.
If you have news to share, please let us know!
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Tribal Teacher Training gets Federal Funds Boost

WASHINGTON - Joan Knobloch likes to gather her kindergarteners around an easel so they can write a story together.

It's part of a read-aloud technique that the Ashland teacher learned from Native American Professional Development Center instructors.

"The program works," said Knobloch, who teaches at the St. Labre Indian School. "When the children read and write stories together they enjoy themselves and they pay attention and learn."

Since its creation in 2002, the center has run on a shoestring from the Sheridan, Wyo., home of its director to offer training to tribal educators. This year, the center was earmarked to receive $500,000 in federal funding, and Director Craig Dougherty plans to use it to expand his efforts.

Dougherty, who is also the superintendent of schools for the Sheridan County School District No. 2, said the money will allow him to begin the process of spreading the program to Indian schools throughout the country.

He hopes it will allow the center to hire its first full-time employees and attract money from private foundations.

The influx of money also marks a transition for the program from an intense hobby that Dougherty worked on in his free time to an organization with three full-time employees.

Dougherty, a Powell, Wyo., native, started developing plans for the program in 2000 and has run it since 2002.

"I have always done it pro bono," Dougherty said. "It drives my wife nuts."

Walter C. Fleming, who directs Montana State University's Center for Native American Studies, said a program like Dougherty's is needed.

"As considered by all measures of achievement, from aptitude tests to graduation rates, Native American students lag behind," Fleming said. "There is no question about that."

Fleming attributed Indian students' problems in school to a history in which Indians were forced to attend schools that aimed to break the connection to their Indian heritage. Although the policy formally ended in 1936, there were few changes in Indian education until the 1970s, Fleming said.

If the program can attract private money to supplement the $500,000 in federal money, Dougherty may form a partnership with Sheridan College to create a four-year program in Sheridan that would focus on instructing college students who plan to work on Indian reservations how to teach basic reading and math skills.

Dougherty's efforts have already caught the attention of senators Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and Max Baucus, D-Mont., who helped get the $500,000 for the program through Congress.

"I started looking at it about a year ago and I was very impressed," Enzi said. "I think this program could have implications for educating all students."

Ted Monoson Billings Gazette

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  

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