Shirleen Tabaha, ’18 (Elementary Education)
Official: ‘We Are Educating and Nation Building’
Tsaile, Ariz. — Periodically, educators at Diné College’s School of Diné Studies and Education gather in a room and talk about numbers, charts, graphs and enrollment.
There, too, they study data to understand what the numbers are trying to tell them. A type of “situation room,” the gathering place is where leadership goes over test scores, teacher responsibilities — and just anything that might help improve the school.
Something seems to be working. The School of Diné Studies and Education, formally the Center for Diné Teacher Education (CDTE), is very successful at graduating students and getting them into the workforce around the Navajo Nation.
The School of Diné Studies and Education houses the elementary education program.
“I think it’s a tribute to our overall program,” Amelia Black, a former CDTE chairperson and current education faculty member, said. “This has been a successful program for many years. We are educating and Nation building.”
The College graduated eight students this past May and each passed the National Evaluation Series (NES) test — the state qualifying test for elementary education grads.
Black said the department graduates about seven B.A. students in elementary education per year on average, a figure that dates back at least a decade, she said.
Black, an Arizona State University graduate whose background is in early childhood education, said a big plus for students taking the NES test is the fact that Diné College pays for it via a grant — which, in the long run, doesn’t amount to much since practically each graduating Diné College student passes the NES the first time around.
“I recommend the elementary education program at Diné College for people who want a career in that field,” Shirleen Tabaha, a May 2018 graduate of the program and current employee at Navajo Head Start in Window Rock, said. “You really do learn a lot and the apprenticeship part is very worthwhile.”
Black and Tabaha noted that the apprenticeship functions like a field practicum. In that part of the program, students are paired with an area teacher and get hands-on classroom management and teaching experience.