NESPELEM - Meeting virtually during the Colville Business Council’s Education and Employment Committee, May 3, Colville tribal leaders met with representatives from the state’s Office of Native Instruction and ESD171 about implementation of House Bill 1139, legislation from 2019 that aims to increase teacher recruitment across the state.

“The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction put in some thought around how we serve with these resources in a good way,” said Dr. Laura Lynn, ONE Program Supervisor. “They reached out to the Office of Native Education to ensure we are finding pathways to lift up and strengthen opportunities for Native people to serve in education, in many ways that is the focus of the Native Educator project.”

Within ESD171, the Education Service District that serves most schools in the Okanogan, Douglas, Chelan and Grant counties, two college programs currently provide the opportunity for non-traditional pathways toward teacher certification, said ESD171’s Linda McKay.

“We are already excited that in our region we have these two programs, one through Wenatchee Valley College and one through Eastern Washington University, that provide the opportunity for families and members to stay in their homes to receive their teaching degrees,” said

McKay. “We are working with tribal programs to see how we can partner, increase our recruitment and provide the support so that we have more of our native families and students looking to become educators.”

ONE, which was formed by the legislature in 2011 as a division of OSPI, “provides assistance to school districts in meeting the educational needs of American Indian and Alaskan Native students and serves as a liaison between OSPI and school districts, tribal governments, State-Tribal Education Compact schools, tribal schools, Native communities, parent/guardians of Native children, and other groups and individuals,” according to their state website.

Colville tribal member Shandy Abrahamson currently serves as the ONE Career Connected Learning Tribal Engagement Specialist.

The meeting came after a collaborative meeting with the tribes Education and Employment Division and Youth Development Program, said Abrahamson, who noted much of their hope is to encourage school administrators to move into the tribal consultation process.

“Part of our work under the Office of School Improvement is to help strengthen our programs and strengthen our schools’ understanding around our tribal programs and our native students in our districts,” said McKay. “We have had the great opportunity to meet with Tammy James (Colville Tribal Education and Employment Division Director) and work with Laura Morago (Colville Tribal Youth Development Director) around the needs with government-to-government training for our school leaders on the consultation process. 

“I know we have our school districts that participate in that as required, but what does that look like in implementing the Since Time Immemorial Curriculum, learning more about tribal sovereignty and about the tribal students they have in their district. Those are tops of our minds with the programs.”

Specifically, said McKay, a number of districts in the region have expressed interests in land acknowledgement.

CBC member Norma Sanchez noted the Moses Lake School District Superintendent had recently visited CBC Chambers to discuss the Moses Lake High School mascot, which is the Moses Lake Chiefs.

“We discussed land acknowledgement in depth with the Moses Lake School Superintendent about publicly identifying something within the school or the area,” said Sanchez. “They identified that they weren’t teaching anything about the original landowners until students were in the fourth or fifth grade. Even the community members don’t realize where they live and who they are neighbors to in that community. In any way we can assist in that manner benefits all the people in our tribe and all of the communities, so we start showing more respect to one another. We just need to know how to help you get to where we all need to be.”

CBC member Andy Joseph Jr. also called on the group to look into different educational models such as that used at the Healing Lodge of the 7 Nations where students are accessed and developed individualized learning plans, according to Joseph.

“We have had some students make up a year and a half in 90 days because of the learning model they’re using,” said Joseph. “A lot of our students are really smart, but struggle because of the way they learn … A lot of our students aren’t given a good start, but once they get the help they need they are actually really impressive in education.”

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