National Forum on Dropout Prevention for Native and Tribal Communities
Amy Schlessman, NAEA Board Member
The National Dropout Prevention Center/Network (NDPC/N) provided a national forum for Native and Tribal Communities on April 9 – 12 at We-Ko-Pa in Scottsdale, AZ. Over three hundred participants attended from communities across the U.S. and Canada including Quileute Tribal School (Washington); Shakopee-Mdewakanton Sioux Community (Minnesota), Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, as well as students from Pine Ridge High School in South Dakota. Forum partners and sponsors were Arizona Department of Education, Alaska Staff Development Network, Alaska Council of School Administrators, Native American Fatherhood & Families Association, and Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
“The conference theme, Building Engaging Educational Communities for Native Students, provided many professional learning activities,” reported David Reed, Grad Solutions. The Forum offered dynamic keynote speakers, thought-provoking breakout sessions, and featured presentations from special participants including student performances by Akimel O’otham Basket Dancers, San Carlos Apache Crown Dancers, and Santa Rosa Ranch School Royalty.
“Participating in the forum was like sitting in a theater and hearing and watching a drama unfold filled with heartbreaks, victims and heroes, and occasional joys of overcoming obstacles to experience some successes. What resonated with me was the dedication and passion of educators who have put their heart and soul into facilitating learning, mentoring, opening doors of opportunities and building bridges for youth to navigate as they enter productive lives.” Dr. Johnson Bia, President-Elect, Arizona Alternative Education Consortium, member of the Navajo Nation
The forum was a stellar example of the NAEA-NDPN partnership. This gathering broadened dropout prevention, remediation and recovery resources and provided a collaborative learning experience among practitioners and other stakeholders serving in Native and Tribal youth and their communities.