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Colleges partner to train more American Indian principals, administrators
18 April 2006

GRAND FORKS, ND - A tribal college and a mainstream university have teamed up to help increase the number of American Indian school leaders who help shape the minds of young children and inspire them to reach their potential.

      United Tribes Technical College (UTTC), Bismarck, and the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, have been awarded a $1 million grant to increase the number of American Indian school principals in the state.

      The United Tribes Principal Leadership for American Indians in Native Schools (UT-PLAINS) grant calls for recruiting 15 Native American educators into UND's graduate degree program in the Department of Educational Leadership. The grant is funded by the U.S. Department of Education through its Office of Indian Education.

      "We're delighted to be partnering with United Tribes Technical College on this program," said UND President Charles Kupchella. "We believe it will have a profound effect on the overall quality of public education in this state, particularly in Native American schools."

      "This collaboration addresses the need to provide advanced training for people already in the education field," said UTTC President David M. Gipp. "It has the potential for complimenting and extending teacher education done at the undergraduate level by tribal colleges and mainstream colleges."

      The project began in the fall and will run through the summer of 2009. In the first semester, four students have already enrolled, but that number is expected to grow as word about the project gets out into the state. Participant slots are available for equal representation of educators from all five North Dakota tribal nations.

      Supervising the project are Sheri Bear King-Baker, UTTC project director and Dr. Angie Koppang, assistant professor in UND's Department of Educational Leadership.

      "We looked at the ratio of administrators, especially principals, in Native schools," said Koppang. "There was a lack of administrators versus the number of students and teachers."

      The master's program prepares graduates for their first administrative position, such as a school principal. The program is aligned to meet national standards for administrative licensure for the preparation of principals for North Dakota and nationwide.

      "This is a great opportunity for Native American educators to further their education at the graduate level with financial support," said Baker.

      A doctoral program track assists practicing administrators who are looking to further enhance their knowledge base for different administrative roles, such as a superintendent.

      "Educators will appreciate the way this program is constructed because they can remain on the job through most of the time they are earning the advanced degree," said Gipp.

      School leadership is important in providing support for improving student achievement in schools, said Koppang. This program will help, which in turn, helps communities, she said.

      Students in the program must be employed in a school district, hold a bachelor's degree in education and a valid teaching license, meet the admission requirements, and be Native American. This specialized course of study requires full-time enrollment for one academic year. At that point students will take on a principal position.

      Year two focuses on mentorship for administrators. For that the Department is working to identify good role models in the field who are current administrators. Seminars will be conducted for both the student and mentor and the design will be tailored to what their specific needs are.

      "Our exceptional Educational Leadership department is well-positioned to help implement this grant. The result, in just a few short years, will be 15 more highly educated public school leaders," said Kupchella.


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