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Course Gets Teachers Ready for Reservations

The University of Wyoming has developed a new graduate course designed to help educators who are teaching on American Indian reservations.

The course, taught by two of the university’s education professors, includes five classes that show educators how to blend American Indian culture and history into lesson plans and classrooms.

“We have learned that there are important advantages to bringing in local culture, language, history, traditions into the classroom,” said Tim Rush, an elementary and early childhood professor. “When we can do that for American Indian students, they do better.”

Rush and fellow professor Angela Jaime developed the course’s curriculum with tribal leaders and educators. American Indian students are very aware their stories aren’t included in modern-day history books, Rush said.

Marty Conrad, a teacher for 35 years, works as an instruction facilitator in Lander and graduated from the pilot course this past spring. He’s also an American Indian, with Choctaw and Creek tribal roots.

“These courses really open up eyes on how to teach Native American students,” Conrad said. “There are some differences. Some people don’t know that.”

Those differences range from as how American Indian families handle the death of a loved one to standing — not sitting — during an honor song.

“Teachers sometimes need to know their (American Indian students’) background, and need to know where their students are from,” Conrad said.

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