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Doane Receives Grant for Navajo Nation Teachers

A grant from the Messengers of Healing Winds Foundation will assist Doane College in providing two years of on-site graduate-level education courses for teachers at the Navajo Nation.

Doane was awarded $90,000 from the Santa Fe-based foundation to subsidize instruction within the Navajo Nation, beginning in July 2006. The funds will be used as tuition scholarships for educators with financial need.

The grant marks the fourth time Messengers of Healing Winds has supported Doane's on-site program.   Messengers of Healing Winds supports nonprofit organizations that address needs related to the environment, animal welfare, fine arts renovations and selected social concerns.

During the two-year program, Navajo educators can complete coursework in three professional development areas: Master of Education in Educational Leadership, a Reading Endorsement and English as a Second Language (ESL) Endorsement.

The master's degree program prepares educators for state certification as a school principal, while the endorsements will improve teachers' skills to address literacy issues at the Navajo Nation.

Instruction takes place at Rock Point Community School (Arizona). Doane faculty and qualified adjunct faculty from the local area will serve as instructors. Courses will be offered in a one-week, all-day format, allowing students to complete three or four courses each July. During the school year, students enroll in one internship/practicum course each semester under Doane faculty supervision. A Doane instructor visits two times each semester and provides a Saturday seminar each time in collaboration with a local instructor.

The reading and ESL endorsement coursework is new from Doane.

Doane's on-site program dates back to the early 1990s, when the college established the first comprehensive graduate program brought directly to the Navajo. The program grew from a conversation between Dr. Lyn Forester, chair of Doane's Education Department, and a Fort Lewis College professor at a conference. Fort Lewis in Durango, Colo., was part of a consortium of schools providing undergraduate education to the Navajo Nation. Doane's Education Department contacted the Intergovernmental Relations Committee and the Educational Committee of the Navajo Nation Council and received permission to begin the graduate program.

The first cadre of teachers began in 1995. A total of 116 Master of Education degrees have been awarded since that time. Student educators come from Shiprock, N.M., Jeehdeez'a Academy, Rock Point, Kayenta, Round Rock, Lukachukai, Fort Defiance, Chilchinbito, Dennehotso, Teec Nos Pos, Red Mesa, Page, and Rough Rock, Ariz., and other communities in the northern regions of Arizona and New Mexico. Other than the instruction offered by Doane, teachers in the Four Corners area have few options for completing educational programs without traveling great distances for a portion of their studies. Even with Doane's on-site program, some students have driven two hours each way to attend classes.

Doane's program addresses the logistical problems. Its approach and content also acknowledge the cultural priorities of the community, emphasizing perspectives and approaches that will be effective within the Navajo schools. The programs meet the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education standards.