Kan. - Although Haskell teacher education senior, Lydia Roach had
written the essay for the American Indian Higher Education Consortium
(AIHEC) student of the year competition, the call she got on her
birthday was completely unexpected. She had been named AIHEC's
student of the year from Haskell. Roach, a member of the Cheyenne
River Sioux Tribe, had never really thought about her accomplishments.
The job she was doing at school and as a student teacher were just
business as usual. But to the committee at Haskell that nominated
her and to the officials at AIHEC, Roach's dedication and outlook
on education were much more than "business as usual."
parents were teachers and she grew up around education, but it was
when she took time off to raise her niece that she realized she
wanted to work with young children in the classroom. Once that decision
was made, Roach headed for Haskell Indian Nations University's
Teacher Education Program and threw herself into preparing to educate
had received her associate's degree in Liberal Arts from the
college in 1997 and her previous positive experience with the school
is what brought her back.
knew what I wanted to do and that was to work with young children,"
Roach remembered. "I knew that the program at Haskell was unique
in its methods and I liked the fact that I was being taught by Native
she completes her last semester in the program, Roach is full of
confidence and anxious to have her own classroom, but admits she
will miss working with the woman she has been a student teacher
for this past year, Val Howland.
a teacher at the Broken Arrow Elementary School will miss her too.
"I've been very, very proud of her," Howland said.
"It has been a wonderful experience for me to watch her grow
in confidence in the classroom."
over 20 years in the classroom, Howland is pleased to see women
of color teaching children. "When I was growing up and in school,
we saw women of color in positions as laborers," Howland said.
"I always remember that the first time I saw a woman of color
in a leadership position it made me realize that I could be more
than I had expected of myself. One of the things I see from the
Haskell students is the broad spectrum of knowledge they have before
they get into the classroom. Lydia had so much more time in the
classroom before she started teaching that it really makes a difference.
She spent her observation time with me last year and so when she
started this year it was an added bonus. We already had relationship
established and a rapport. I really feel the extra hours and interaction
they have with the children really gives them an edge."
Howland and Roach are teaching Kindergarteners, they have explained
to the children that man years ago they couldn't have taught
children of one race or another because of segregation. After explaining
Brown v. Board of Education, the young students were aghast at the
"old" way of doing things.
has tickled both Howland and Roach has been that after teaching
students about Native American history, they asked the students
how many of them were Indians. "The whole class stood up and
raised their hands," Howland laughed. "All of them said
they knew they had to be."
Roach completes the last few weeks of her student teaching stint
she looks back on the past year fondly. "I was looking back
and thought I'm not going to be in the classroom here anymore
or at Haskell and I thought, how sad," Roach said. "But
so many other things are going on that are good, some things are
ending, but other things are just beginning. I can't wait to
have my own classroom."
award from AIHEC was just icing on the cake for Roach, but the fact
her mother was able to be there to see her presented with the award
is something she will never forget. "I couldn't believe
she was able to get off during the school year and fly to see me
get the award," she said smiling. "That and seeing other
relatives there made it even more special."
that the initial surprise of winning the award has worn off, Roach
said she began looking at the work she has done and although she
is amazed at what she has done, really doesn't think it was
out of the ordinary for her.
had wonderful teachers and they have given me so much," Roach
concluded. "With us getting all this knowledge at Haskell,
we go back home and now everyone is asking questions and wanting
to learn more. I am doing what I love so I guess I don't realize
how well I am doing
it is in my nature to do the best in
everything that I do and exceed. I think that is just something
from my parents and something within my personality. If I can't
do my best why do it?"