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New UW Certificate Prepares Teachers of American Indian Children
September 25, 2008 — A distance-delivered graduate certificate program for teachers of American Indian children is being offered through the University of Wyoming.
Delivered through a combination of face-to-face meetings and distance technology, the first in-depth graduate program is intended to certify that the program's graduates possess the attitudes, knowledge and competence to teach native youths.
Angela Jaime, assistant professor of educational studies, and R. Timothy Rush, professor of elementary and early childhood education in the UW College of Education, developed the curriculum in consultation with tribal leaders and educators. Jaime and Rush will coordinate the program, which recently received official UW administrative approval.
Christine Rogers and Marty Conrad, both from Lander, are the first two teachers to complete the program. Rogers is a full-time UW doctoral student this year and Conrad is an instructional facilitator, serving several schools.
UW's certificate program is the first comprehensive learning opportunity for individuals interested in understanding the learning needs of American Indian children, Jaime and Rush say.
Consisting of five three-semester-hour graduate courses, the program's target audience is teachers who were not initially prepared to teach American Indian children.
"On one hand, we are blazing a trail with a program of this scope and depth," Rush says. "But on the other hand, we're 80 years behind the first national call for teacher education programs to specially prepare educators to serve native children."
Jaime and Rush acknowledge the new program reflects what they learned in examining scholarly recommendations and the programs of other institutions.
Pilot versions of the five core courses drew 39 students. Several entered the program with at least two of the required courses complete. All classes will be cross-listed as American Indian Studies courses. The regular delivery schedule of the five courses began this summer with Jaime and Rush serving as the primary instructors.
All courses will be delivered using distance technologies, including online platforms and videoconferencing. This will allow the program to reach a nationwide audience for greatest impact, Jaime says.
"Turning it into an online, nationwide-access, distance learning experience will be key to the success of the program," she says. This will create a model that other institutions can adapt in new ways. Replication and adaptation of the UW model will be encouraged in the interest of working together to make a lasting impact on teachers of American Indian children, Jaime adds.
Support for the new program has been strong. Rush and Jaime say former and present College of Education Deans Patricia McClurg and Kay Persichitte, the UW Office of Academic Affairs, Director of American Indian Studies Judith Antell, and Deans Oliver Walter (College of Arts and Sciences) and Don Roth (UW Graduate School) enthusiastically supported the program as it developed.
The Northern Arapaho Business Council, the Eastern Shoshone Business Council and public school officials of the Wind River Indian Reservation also supported the program.
"It gives us deep satisfaction to know that our community of educators did not undertake development and delivery of this program because we had to," Rush and Jaime say. "We did it because it was right."
For more information about the program, contact Rush at (307) 766-5705, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or Jaime at (307) 766-3991 or e-mail email@example.com. Individuals can request application guidelines and requirements by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.