PARK - The Penn State graduate program designed to train students
to be principals in American Indian schools received a $1 million
federal grant Thursday.
Deputy Secretary of Education Eugene Hickok announced the award
Thursday and presented the College of Education's American Indian
Leadership Program with a ceremonial check for about $500,000, the
first part of a three-year award.
grant really strengthens an already strong program and provides
us an opportunity to do something we wouldn't ordinarily be able
to do with our own resources," said Rodney Erickson, Penn State's
executive vice president and provost.
State's program is in its 34th year, making it the oldest continuous
leadership program for American Indians and Alaska natives.
program has had 208 graduates from 501 tribes, said Tamarah Pfeiffer,
a doctoral candidate in educational administration with the program.
federal grant will be used to put eight students through a three-year
program to become principals.
students will spend two years at Penn State and the third year training
in schools. The goal is to select the students in the fall and have
them start at Penn State in the spring, according to the program.
Pfeiffer, a Navajo and a doctoral student at Penn State, said the
program would help train Indian educators who already are familiar
with the nuances of their tribal communities and culture to handle
the practical aspects of effectively running a school.
W. Tippeconnic, a Comanche and the director of the program, said
there's a particular need in Indian Country, where the patchwork
of schools -- tribally run schools, Bureau of Indian Affairs schools
and state-supervised schools just outside of reservation borders
-- often have a hard time keeping principals.
many Indian schools, more than what we think there's high turnover
in that position," Tippeconnic said in a telephone interview.
it's key that we have Indian people in those schools who understand
the community, who understand the culture, who understand what it
takes to bring up academic achievement."
think the record speaks for itself in terms of what Penn State has
done in previous years," said Hickok, who was Pennsylvania's
secretary of education and an ex-officio member of Penn State's
board of trustees, before being appointed to his current post.