Indian Education Summit Offers Help, Inspiration

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For Immediate Release
Contact: Dale Wetzel, Public Information Specialist
Office 701-328-2247
Cell: 701-400-8557

Indian Education Summit Offers Help, Inspiration

BISMARCK, N.D., July 10, 2017 – State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said North Dakota’s fourth Indian Education Summit will feature presentations on culturally relevant school instruction, ways to improve academic results for Native American students, and techniques for teaching students who are under traumatic stress.

Baesler said 122 people have signed up to attend the summit, which is being held Tuesday and Wednesday (July 11-12) in the Brynhild Haugland Room of the North Dakota Capitol. The summit begins at 8:30 a.m. on both days.

Dr. Nova Griffith, a Bismarck clinical psychologist, and Dr. Terri Bissonette, an education consultant for McRel International in Denver, will hold sessions on “trauma-informed schools.” The term describes schools where parents, teachers, administrators, staff and law enforcement are trained to recognize, help and support students who may be suffering from traumatic stress.

Student stress can result from many things, including bullying, being a witness to violence, mourning the loss of a relative or friend, or living in a chaotic home. Education research shows that students absorb information differently when they are under stress, and participants in the sessions will discuss ways to teach those students more effectively.

Camie Luger and Della No Heart, who are teachers at Standing Rock Elementary School in Fort Yates, are making a presentation on ways to develop elementary school curriculum that is culturally relevant to Native American students.

During Baesler’s tenure, the Department of Public Instruction has developed “North Dakota Native American Essential Understandings,” a guide to the culture, history and traditions of North Dakota’s American Indian tribes. The Essential Understandings document has been provided to all North Dakota schools as a resource for teachers.

Dr. Joan Aus, an assistant professor at Valley City State University, will give a presentation on how teachers may work to close the academic assessment “achievement gap” between Native American and non-Native students.

Jack Edmo Jr., a Bureau of Indian Affairs education specialist, will offer training for reservation school board members. Lucy Fredericks, the NDDPI’s director of American Indian and multicultural education, said board members who have attended previous summits told her such instruction would be helpful.

Fredericks said attendance at the annual summer event has almost doubled since its inception in July 2014. This year’s summit will have about two dozen breakout and discussion sessions, as well as two keynote speakers, Dr. Don Bartlette and Veronica Palmer. Bartlette is a social worker, counselor and educator, and Palmer is the chief executive officer of RISE Colorado, an education organization that advocates for low-income families.

“This summit is gaining wider recognition as a way for educators to learn about the most current educational practices and trends in Indian education,” Fredericks said. “We are proud and gratified about how it has grown.”

A summit agenda, as well as a schedule of breakout sessions and background information about the presenters, accompanies this press release.