Sunday, February 26, 2012

One Mouth and Two Ears…


Sharla Steever is a fourth grade teacher from Hill City SD.  She is a National Board Certified Teacher, and a Classroom Teaching Ambassador Fellow for the United States Department of Education (I was a TAF in 2010-2011.)  Sharla is also a dear friend, with a powerful commitment to the Native American community.  Her guest blog here fits with the social justice orientation of Education Worker.
The last few months I have spent a great deal of time travelling around the rural beauty of the state of SD to places even I, who have spent my entire life here, had never seen. I had the honor of holding a variety of teacher round tables and personal interviews with the educational leaders of our Native American Reservation schools and videoed every bit of it.
My goal? To bring the voices of this unique group of people, with their unique educational issues to ED in their own words.
These people are from places in our own backyard that are dealing with levels of poverty, alcoholism, and unemployment far exceeding national averages, but they are also some of the most self-determined, creative, beautiful people I have ever met in my life.
I began this project with a desire and hope to educate myself and others about issues in Native American education on our reservations. What I didn’t expect was the gift it would become to me. As I sat across from each person in this video and so many more, I was given the gift of story – some sad, some inspiring, some anger-filled, some so beautiful they moved me to tears. Through all of them I discovered something very important. If we truly want to impact change, we must first start by listening…not only to the words that are shared, but to the heart behind the words.
I learned a great deal about the issues facing our educators and students in these areas, but more than that I learned that there are amazing people doing incredible work day after day and year after year in areas of poverty that are far beyond most of our imaginations. If we want to help improve the situations these schools are facing, we must begin by working to understand them. How do we do that? We do it by listening to their stories. My hope is that this video provides a glimpse into these incredible stories and helps to inform those in positions to create change.
I hope you will enjoy and share, “Tokata: Moving Forward in Indian Education.”

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