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APS Indian Education Department Presents at National Convention

42nd Annual NIEA Conference held in Albuquerque Oct. 26-30

October 24, 2011

Staff members from the Albuquerque Public Schools Indian Education Department will make at least seven presentations over the four-day National Indian Education Association convention this week. The national organization’s 42nd annual gathering is expected to bring some 3,000 visitors from around the country to the Albuquerque Convention Center Oct. 26-30.

“We’re proud to see the APS Indian Education Department receive national recognition for their work,” APS Superintendent Winston Brooks said. “It says a lot about their contributions to Native American education when they are asked to give so many presentations to an audience of thousands.”

The NIEA convention is entitled “Building Alliances to Strengthen Native Education Values.”

Indian Education staffers will present on topics including creating indigenous curriculum and culturally-based after-school programs, decreasing the achievement gap and APS’ urban language program in the Diné Bizaad dialect of Navajo. Parents on the APS Indian Parent Committee will discuss their collaboration strategies.

“We want the greater Native American education community and service providers to become better equipped to help support the Native American students and families in their respective states, communities, and schools,” said Daisy Thompson, director of APS Indian Education, a presenter on the achievement gap. “It is the sharing of vital methods and strategies in the classroom that many people come to the annual NIEA Convention to hear about. This year is the ‘coming out’ of ‘Urban Education’ in the NIEA Convention and I believe we did it well.”

Native American APS students also will contribute to the discussion. Some will serve on a panel of urban high school students, sharing their thoughts on what they learn, extracurricular activities and daily interactions. That panel will be led by two University of New Mexico professors. Dr. Phyllis Clay of APS Research, Deployment and Accountability will lead another discussion on including Native students’ voices in the design of their education.

Friday is Youth Day at the conference. About 30 APS students are expected to participate in a day of discussions led by the National Congress of American Indians Youth Commission and the United Native Indian Tribal Youth. Using interactive technology, students will reach out to their peers around the country to discuss issues that concern them. Their responses will be used to advise tribal leaders as they look at Native American education.

APS Indian Education has written a book on creating a culturally-relevant education plan for K-12 students. The 60-page book took two years to put together.

“We have been very fortunate because we are located close to one of the nation’s leaders in American Indian Education at the University of New Mexico,” Thompson said. “We have had the opportunity of working closely with Dr. Greg Cajete in curriculum development, and the writing of the Indian Education Plan, and the book studies that have served as professional development for our teachers.”

The APS Indian Education Department serves more than 6,000 students and their families. A diverse group within itself, students represent 117 of the 560 tribes in the U.S.

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