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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America



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Grant Aids American Indian Training


by Anne Danahy Centre Daily Times


UNIVERSITY PARK - The Penn State graduate program designed to train students to be principals in American Indian schools received a $1 million federal grant Thursday.

U.S. 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.

"This 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.

Penn State's program is in its 34th year, making it the oldest continuous leadership program for American Indians and Alaska natives.

The program has had 208 graduates from 501 tribes, said Tamarah Pfeiffer, a doctoral candidate in educational administration with the program.

The federal grant will be used to put eight students through a three-year program to become principals.

Those 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.

Tamarah 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.

John 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.

"In many Indian schools, more than what we think there's high turnover in that position," Tippeconnic said in a telephone interview.

"So 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."

"I 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.

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