Education Drives America 2012 Bus Tour

Elko: Community collaboration is key 

Photo by Joshua Hoover

At the Great Basin Indian Education Roundtable on day two of ED’s cross-country bus tour, it was clear that education really does drive America. During Thursday’s first event at Great Basin College in Elko, Nev., we witnessed how communities can come together.

William Mendoza, director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education led the panel that featured Deb Delisle, assistant secretary for the office of elementary and secondary education, Nevada Tribal leaders, Nevada’s state superintendent, representatives from institutions of higher education, representatives from Title VII and Impact Aid school grantees, teachers, parents, students, and community members.


Photo by Joshua Hoover

“It was refreshing to hear about best practices we can learn from and most especially share with other communities so they can best meet the needs of their children” -Asst Secretary Deb Delisle.

ED officials listened to panelists as they described the challenges they are facing, but also how school districts and communities are working together to improve education for Native American students.

“Native Americans are a significant portion of our enrollment and community.  It is important that we reach out to them as effectively as we can” – John Rice, Great Basin College’s Chief Development Officier 

The roundtable included: Gerald Temoke, chairman of the Elko Band of Indians; James W. Guthrie, Nevada superintendent of education; Sherry Rupert, executive director of the Nevada Indian Commission; Deb Delisle,  Asst Secretary of the Office of Elementary and Seconday Education; Bill Mendoza, director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaskan Native Education;  Dr Mark Curtis, president of Great Basin College; Mike McFarlane, vice president of academic affairs for Great Basin College, Thad Ballard, president of the Elko County School Board; Lori Pasqua, pre-college advisor for the Washoe Tribe education department; Lynn Manning, Indian education program coordinator for Washoe Country school district; Carol Couchum, teacher at Oywhee Combined School in Elko County school district.  

Additional Resources

Check out a powerpoint presentation from the event:                                                                                                                       Impact Aid Presentation from Break-out Session-2013 Funding and IPPs

See press coverage of the Great Basin Indian Education Roundtable:


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AIAN Principal in the Spotlight

WA School Leader Named National HS Principal of the Year
Trevor Greene helped rural, high-poverty school overcome the odds

Trevor Greene, principal of Toppenish High School in Toppenish, WA, has been named the 2013 MetLife/NASSP (National Association of Secondary School Principals) National High School Principal of the Year. The award was announced at a surprise assembly attended by students, teachers, district staff members, State Superintendent Randy Dorn, and representatives from the state legislature and Sen. Patty Murray’s office. Greene was honored during a black-tie gala on September 21 in Washington, DC, to kick off National Principals Month.

In transforming Toppenish High School into a high-performing place of learning, Trevor Greene brought a renewed sense of hope to rural Washington. Nestled on the Yakama Indian Reservation, Toppenish serves a high-minority (95%), high-poverty (100%) student population. Because he grew up on the reservation, Greene saw the consequences of generational poverty, and he made it his personal mission to return to the area and bring the community together to support students’ education.

Greene made parental engagement a priority, reaching out to migrant families and families from the Yakama Nation. A migrant advocate on-staff ensures that the needs of students from that special population are being met. Greene also brought in a graduation specialist who keeps students on track to graduate, and with the help of his staff, he spent the last four years directing resources to the students who need them most.

“Trevor Greene played a central role in helping Toppenish achieve significant and sustained improvement among students who are affected by poverty and its associated issues,” said NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti. “Trevor’s relentless effort to increase rigor and provide opportunities for all students, regardless of socio-economic status, ensures a personalized learning environment where every student feels valued.”

Knowing the importance of establishing a culture of high expectations, Greene expanded academic opportunities for his students, many of whom had never been expected to succeed, let alone graduate. He added rigorous courses, including 27 high-profile engineering and biomedical classes, a Microsoft IT Academy class, and a robotics class. To give students an opportunity to pursue postsecondary education, he made it possible for them to earn 30 college credits by the time they graduate from high school.

Thanks to Greene’s encouragement, participation in rigorous STEM courses skyrocketed, the school’s dropout rate decreased, and state science scores increased by 67% over a three-year period. In addition, special education students now have access to adaptive physical education and music courses, increasing engagement across the board.

“We applaud Trevor Greene for his leadership in engaging the teachers, parents, and all stakeholders in the transformation of Toppenish High School,” said Derrick Kelson, vice president, MetLife. “His efforts empower students to fulfill their potential and create a brighter future for the community.”

“It is important to recognize outstanding school leadership,” added Dennis White, vice president of Corporate Contributions for MetLife. “The MetLife/NASSP National Principal of the Year Program acknowledges the crucial role of principals as leaders and individuals who go above and beyond to make their schools the best they can be for students, teachers, and communities.”

The national principal of the year search began in early 2012 as each state principals association selected its state principal of the year. From this pool of state award winners, a panel of judges selected three middle level and three high school finalists. Trevor Greene and Laurie Barron, the national middle level winner, were then selected.

Greene and Barron each received a grant of $5,000. Grants must be used in the school to improve learning (e.g. a special school project or professional development). NASSP and MetLife are strongly committed to supporting the visions of unsung school leaders. Each year the MetLife/NASSP National Principal of the Year program focuses attention on the outstanding work principals do in middle level and high schools across the country.

For more information about the program and winners, please visit

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Tribal Consultations

Brief History of Tribal Consultations:

The consultations were identified in the scope for our OIE contract since 2007; ED had no formal State or Tribal Consultation policy or procedure and did not hold an official tribal consultation until spring 2010. During the 2009 National Indian Education Conference, titled Partnerships in Indian Education, ED hosted a statewide Oklahoma Tribal Leaders Forum on Indian Education. Twelve of the twenty-two tribes of Oklahoma were represented during this one-day forum. The forum was coordinated with Oklahoma’s department of education to bring tribal leaders/representatives together to discuss Indian education issues affecting Native students in Oklahoma and identify strategies to better serve them. Although Oklahoma has a very active statewide Indian education association and the JOM National Headquarters is based out of Tulsa, OK, the statewide tribal leader forum was the first of its kind on Indian education in Oklahoma. 

Additionally, ED was a strong supporter of inter-state collaboration on Indian education and promoted ongoing communication and collaboration among state education leaders, including Chief State School Officers and State Directors of Indian Education. In particular, ED held annual meetings in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) that focused on strengthening partnerships in Indian education at the highest level in states with large populations of Native students. These sessions were led by Chiefs and/or their Directors of Indian Education. In 2008, the group developed a value statement and agreed on goals that addressed the needs of Native students. The value statement and goals were presented to the Secretary of Education with anticipation of full support. However, as it was the last year of that administration the proposal was set aside and nothing came of it. This was the last year the group met and momentum was lost, including the coordination of activity with CCSSO and states.

After Obama’s appointment as President the following was determined: “The consultation is an outgrowth of President Obama’s Nov. 5, 2009 Presidential Memorandum and Executive Order 13175, which direct agencies to develop a plan of action for providing regular and meaningful consultation and strengthening of government-to-government relationships with Indian tribes” (U.S. Department of Education, 2012).

Following the President’s call for all Federal agencies to develop a “Plan of Action” in November 2009 for stronger relationships with tribes, ED held its first tribal consultations in spring 2010, as well as several listening and learning sessions and in 2012 Tribal Leader Education Roundtable sessions.

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SACNAS Summer Leadership Institute

SACNAS Summer Leadership Institute, co-sponsored by AAAS
For more information about SACNAS go to:

SACNAS (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science) Summer Leadership Institute (SLI) is entering into its fourth year. SACNAS was founded by a group of minority scientists and incorporated as a 501c3 non-profit corporation in 1973.  The SLI has been developed in collaboration with the AAAS, the American Association for the Advancement of Science- an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science globally by serving as an educator, leader, spokesperson and professional association.

The goals of the SLI are to increase governmental commitment to advancing Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in science resulting in increased resources, elimination of barriers, and greater equity and to increase the number of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in science research, leadership, and teaching careers at all levels.

On July 17, 2012, the WHIAIANE Executive Director William Mendoza was invited to speak at the SLI luncheon on topics related to “Challenges for People of Color in Leadership.”  Mr. Mendoza spoke about his personal pathway to leadership and engaged in dialogue with SACNAS leaders.

SACNAS Director of Native American Initiatives David Wilson, WHIAIANE intern Rebecca Aaron-Albanese, and Executive Director William Mendoza at the SACNAS SLI in Washington DC.

SACNAS Director of Native American Initiatives David Wilson, WHIAIANE intern Rebecca Aaron-Albanese, and Executive Director William Mendoza at the SACNAS SLI in Washington DC.

SACNAS Director of Native American Initiatives David Wilson, Director of Programs Yvonne Rodriguez, and WHIAIANE Executive Director William Mendoza

SACNAS Director of Native American Initiatives David Wilson, Director of Programs Yvonne Rodriguez, and WHIAIANE Executive Director William Mendoza

Mr. Mendoza engages the audience by speaking about his pathway to leadership.

Mr. Mendoza engages the audience by speaking about his pathway to leadership.

After the luncheon, Mr. Mendoza talks with audience members about their experiences

After the luncheon, Mr. Mendoza talks with audience members about their experiences

These photos are courtesy of Michael J. Colella
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