From left: Nez Perce Tribe Technical Assistance Coach Alicia Wheeler, Kamiah middle school teacher Loretta Riener, and Nez Perce Tribe Education Manager Joyce McFarland. Riener was awarded the Dr. Arthur Taylor Jr.
Kamiah district staff joined with Lapwai staff and representatives from several Native American tribes across the country to attend the summer Native Education Research Summit at Joseph, Oregon on August 15-16. The two schools educate “the majority of Nez Perce children in the world” and both schools have staff that, with the Nez Perce Education department and the Idaho State Department of Education (SDE),form the Nez Perce State Tribal Education Partnership (STEP). The STEP project was designed to meet the “unique educational and cultural needs of American Indian and Alaska Native students as a way to improve their academic achievement.” The success of the project has gained attention from leaders of other tribes and federal programs directors.
Kamiah teachers and administrators participate in regular professional development opportunities provided and funded by the Nez Perce STEP project. During a recent Kamiah School district in-service, Nez Perce Tribe Education Manager Joyce McFarland and Technical Assistance Coach Alicia Wheeler honored Principal Jimmy Engledow with the drum stick to recognize his leadership in supporting culturally-responsive professional development.
Middle School special education teacher Loretta Riener received the STEP project’s prestigious Dr. Arthur Taylor Jr. “Culturally-responsive Teacher of the Year” award. McFarland related that Riener participated in STEP’s cultural pedagogy cohort to pilot use of cultural standards for instruction. Riener was recognized because her teaching practice exhibits many strengths in student engagement and making curriculum relevant to the student. From the Idaho SDE Title II/A Program, Riener received a $1,000 certificate to use toward her professional development in the next school year. The STEP project will provide her with an embroidered Pendleton Blanket, $200 to use in her classroom, and an engraved plaque.