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UW-Eau Claire American Indian Teaching Graduates
To Teach at Lac du Flambeau Schools
MAILED: May 15, 2002
EAU CLAIRE — Lac du Flambeau schools will have four new Native American teachers next year thanks to a partnership that helps American Indians earn education degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and gain teaching licensure.
Ann Allen, Patricia Maulson, Mildred Schuman and Michelle Young will graduate from UW-Eau Claire this month and begin their teaching careers at Lac Du Flambeau in the fall.
The four students - along with six other Wisconsin Native American women - were able to earn their degrees thanks to a $742,000 federal grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to the College of Menominee Nation and four partners, including UW-Eau Claire. The teacher-training grant, awarded in 2000 through the Title IX Indian Education Professional Development Program, is overseen by a partnership. Partners are UW-Eau Claire, the College of Menominee Nation, the Lac du Flambeau School District and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
"This program has been a success for Lac du Flambeau," said Richard Vought, district administer for the Lac du Flambeau School District. "It has given our schools four quality Native American teachers with a knowledge of the community and understanding of its youth."
UW-Eau Claire's strong education program coupled with the students' daily interaction with area youth made the graduates attractive candidates when teaching positions became available in Lac du Flambeau schools for the fall, Vought said.
"The power of this project was our ability to put Native faces and voices into the classrooms," said Dr. Robert Barganz, a UW-Eau Claire professor of curriculum and instruction and the campus liaison with project partners and students. "It's important that teachers understand the backgrounds of the children they're teaching. These women live on the reservation or have close ties to it. Students will see their teachers participating in local festivities and activities; they'll see them when they go to dinner. They're part of the same community.
"We're giving them a chance to be professionals within their own community. They'll make middle class salaries in teaching positions without leaving their communities to do it."
With more than 12,000 American Indian students attending public and tribal schools in Wisconsin, and only 140 or so American Indians licensed as classroom teachers, these teachers will be role models for Native American children, project coordinators predict.
"Our students need Indian role models as teachers to encourage them to pursue careers in education," said Vought. "It's essential that there be more Native American teachers throughout the country. Hopefully, this will be an example for other teacher-training programs."
Alan Caldwell, director of the Menominee Culture Institute at the College of Menominee Nation, said he's impressed with UW-Eau Claire's commitment to the project and the success of the students.
"I am extremely pleased with what these students have accomplished," Caldwell said, noting that he believes all 10 graduates will quickly secure teaching jobs. "They worked hard to achieve their goal of earning a bachelor's degree, state teacher licensure and becoming classroom teachers. They attend class, travel to campus, study and still meet the needs of their families."
The grant, the first of its kind in Wisconsin, provided funds for 10 American Indians from the Lac du Flambeau, Menominee, Oneida and Mohican communities who had associate degrees or a minimum of 60 undergraduate credits to be trained as elementary and middle school teachers. Students completed about 48 credit hours of course work in their major and minor as well as courses required for professional licensure. Students also completed a 17-credit student-teaching semester at a school with a majority American Indian population.
Most of the participants are nontraditional students - many have children and other commitments that make them place-bound, Barganz said. This program allows them to take many of their classes at the College of Menominee Nation and Lac du Flambeau School District using videoconferencing and Web-based learning provided by UW-Eau Claire faculty. The group travels to the UW-Eau Claire campus several times a year.
"The beauty of this project is its simplicity," Barganz said. "These women can live at home, go to school and be models in their communities. For most of them, this is the only way they could earn an education degree."
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: May 15, 2002