A federal grant is funding an effort to recruit, educate and place more American Indians as administrators in schools that have larger numbers of Indian students.
The Indian Leadership Education and Development program, called I LEAD, is a partnership of the U.S. Department of Education and Montana State University in Bozeman.
“There’s a big need there,” said Keith Moore, Indian education coordinator for the state Education Department. He said that fewer than 1 percent of administrators in South Dakota’s schools are Indian.
“Montana State has developed a model that we think will be effective in getting more American Indian teachers into administrative positions in our state,” Moore said.
Overall, 20 applicants are being accepted into the program.
It’s the first time South Dakota has taken part in the project, which has been under way in Montana.
“We are thankful that they invited South Dakota to be a part of this important project,” Moore said.
Educators in the program can either earn their master’s or specialist’s degree in educational leadership and their certification as a principal or superintendent, according to Moore. The federal grant covers the cost of their education.
“We’re hoping to train and prepare folks who are going to be highly effective, who can go back into the communities and into the area of Indian education,” Moore said.
Participants must belong to a federally or state-recognized tribe or have a parent or grandparent who is. They also must agree to be an administrator in a school or education-related agency with a substantial Indian population, and they must be certified to teach in South Dakota and hold a bachelor’s degree.
“They need to understand the culture of the schools they’ll be working in and be a stabilizing force in those schools,” Moore said.
Classes will be offered using online and in-class instruction. Participants will also spend six weeks during the summer studying at Bozeman.
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