Ignacio School District held a meeting for families and dignitaries to review the Indian Policies and Procedures, and join in a Q&A session, Wednesday, Oct. 18, at the Ignacio High School. Employees from the school district, board members, Southern Ute Education employees, Title 6 board members, and a handful of parents attended the dinner and meeting.
The meeting started with an invocation by Chairman Clement J. Frost. Sundance Chief Byron Frost gave the opening prayer, and Director of Higher Education LaTitia Taylor made the introduction. Members of the Title 6, act that protects races from discrimination, were at the meeting to discuss their agenda. They are introducing the program into Bayfield Schools where they will be offering tutoring services within the district, “It’s a new program that has never been done before in Bayfield schools.” They are currently in the process of getting tutors and a bus driver.
At the High School level there are 89 Native American students and 34 of them are in advanced placement classes (AP). For the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) testing Curriculum and Assessment Director, Kathy Pokorney stated that 29% of the students are college ready in language arts. Although the score is pretty low the staff plan on working with the students to better prepare then for the PARCC test. “State testing is here to stay, we have to prepare our students the best we can to succeed at these tests,” says Dr. Pokorney.
This year, LaTitia Taylor now oversees the Montessori School. She has collaborated with Ignacio public schools to make a smooth transition from Montessori into the public school system, as well as doing more testing to understand what it’s like. Montessori will be testing with star reader and math as well as Lexia Learning. The Lexia testing is still in the licensing stage at the Montessori but it has been in the public school. Boces provides services and testing in order to help students that have any type of learning disabilities. The student takes the test and the educators and parents come up with a plan that best fits the student.
“Educators, administration and parents are the most important and play a big role in the plan for each student with learning disabilities,” LaTitia Taylor said. Boces will be introduced into the Montessori School to make the transition easier for the children who have learning disabilities, so they already have a plan and don’t have to go through another set of tests.
The Southern Ute Career Fair will continue to be held at the High School instead of the Sky Ute Casino. It’s good for the kids, but administration is working on getting more adults to attend. Director of the Upward Bound Program at the University of Colorado Boulder and Southern Ute descendant, Tanya Winder offers programs that allow students to meet with professionals, take college courses, and work for community service. If your child is interested, contact Ellen Baker, LaTitia Taylor, Tanaya Winder or visit the Upward Bound Website. Southern Ute Executive Officer, Ramona Eagle asked “what is the school doing for the kids who aren’t interested in college, such as ROTC or Job Corps?”
“It’s been the push to get a diploma and something else like ROTC, business, culinary, welding or woodwork,” High School Principle Melanie Taylor said. “We are working with the culinary staff at the Casino to give them experience. The more we can get the students into different aspects and environments that they may not have even shown interested in, [the better]” Eric Lancome said.
Ute language is offered at the high school level. There are 15 students in the class, one non-native and one non-tribal member. “Dr. Stacey Oberly teaches Ute language for the Montessori as well as the high school. She also mentors Nathan Winder so he can transition to the public school system [as an educator],” said LaTitia Taylor. With the help of Cultural Director, Edward Box III, they are looking into getting Ute language into the elementary and middle schools.
For the next meeting the staff would love to see more parents attend and hear what they have to say. The Ignacio High School staff will be looking into getting childcare so more parents will have the ability to attend the meetings. Higher Education and the Ignacio School District is also working to bring back the southwest alliance, which is a grant funded program; funding Southern Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, Durango, Ignacio, Cortez and Bayfield Schools to bring awareness and resources to build relationships between the schools and parents. “Utilize our staff members for tutoring and resources, we are here for the kids to succeed,” LaTicia Taylor said. If you are interesting in learning more about what the Department of Higher Education has to offer please contact Ellen Baker.