College of Education to Launch American Indian Education Program - Northern New Mexico College
College of Education to Launch American Indian Education Program

The New Mexico Public Education Department has awarded $400,000 to Northern’s College of Education for the preparation of American Indian teachers to serve in public schools.

Northern will use these funds to develop and implement the P’oe program, which aims to recruit, educate and place highly qualified American Indian educators in communities with high American Indian student populations throughout the state of NM. The project was developed in close consultation with neighboring school districts, as well as Northern’s American Indian Center, the Eight Northern Pueblos Institute, the Santa Fe Indian School and New Mexico Public Schools. Scholarships and stipends will be available to students enrolled in the program, as well as student support services such as mentorship, tutoring, and individual educational planning.

The award may be renewed for up to three additional years.

According to Dr. Matthew Martinez, Director of the Northern Pueblos Institute, “in Tewa P’oe signifies a pathway and it is with this spirit where the strength of traditional communities travels between the past and present, and continues expanding opportunities and resources. The goal of this initiative is that we continue to recruit and train American Indian teachers and leaders.”

“Northern is the right choice for a program like this because of our strong collaborations between the Northern Pueblo Institute and the College of Education,  our culturally-relevant and diverse programming, and our region’s rich culture and central location to surrounding tribes and pueblos,” Co-Project Manager and College of Education Professor, Dr. Regina Robbins, said”.  The majority of school districts with high American Indian student enrollment surround the College.  In 2013, 15 percent of the College’s teacher candidates were placed in these schools.

Initially, the grant will provide financial assistance for at least 15 Northern students to earn degrees or certifications in the College of Education.  The P’oe program will enhance currently offered COE programs by developing culture-based curriculum in health education, early childhood education, and bilingual/TESOL education.  The P’oe program will also provide the eight Northern pueblos and surrounding Northern New Mexico school districts and communities with outreach services and culturally-relevant professional development. 

Currently, New Mexico Public Schools employ only 2.7 percent American Indian Teachers but have a 12 percent American Indian Student Enrollment. The main goal of the award is to address the need for trained educators who are equipped to successfully support American Indian students’ success. The educator training model developed as part of the project will eventually be available to all twenty-two American Indian tribes and pueblos throughout New Mexico.

Dr. Joaquín Vilá, Dean of the College of Education at Northern, noted that, “this award is a significant step towards addressing the academic needs of American Indian children throughout the state of New Mexico. The impact on the availability and qualifications of teachers and school administrators who serve this population will likely continue beyond the conclusion of the project.  Northern’s faculty and staff will endeavor to adhere to the university’s vision to offer the children of New Mexico the highest quality education that will support them as they grow to become competent, caring, and contributing members of society.”

Northern’s College of Education has been delivering Pre-K-12 teacher preparation programs since 2005 and students have a 99 percent pass rate for NM Teacher Assessment leading to licensure.

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