Education Services to address student dropout rate

BY TESINA JACKSON
Former Reporter
12/22/2011 08:25 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation lost more than $500,000 in scholarship money after losing 318 CN scholarship recipients during the 2010-11 academic school year, the period for which the latest figures are available.

“We lost about 318 students between fall (20)10 and the end of spring (20)11,” Education Services Group Leader Dr. Neil Morton said. “Those students would average, because some are graduate students or part-time, they would average about $1,600 a piece. So we take 318 times $1,600 and that would be the actual loss. And we call it a loss because it is a loss to us unless the students transfer out of state or unless they drop out for a while and then come back and finish up their degree.”

In fall 2010, the tribe supplied scholarships to 2,732 students ranging from undergraduate freshman level to graduate school level. CN officials said the largest number of dropouts is at the freshman level, losing 185 freshmen during the 2010-11 year.

“Students have a difficult time managing their time when they enter college, and for most of them it’s their first time away from home, and it’s just a big step for that freshman student,” Morton said.

Education records show that 89 sophomores and 44 juniors who received CN scholarships dropped out during the 2010-11 academic year. Once the students become seniors, the dropout numbers are slim, Morton said.

Some CN scholarship funds come from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, but most of it comes from tribal funds, Morton said. Once the student drops out, CN doesn’t get that money back.
“If the student drops out before the legal dropout period of the university, then we get the balance of funds returned,” Morton said. “Usually the student drops out after the second nine weeks, after the refund policy has already elapsed by the university.”
After conducting a phone survey of some of the scholarship recipients, Education Services found that the biggest reason for students dropping out was bad grades.
“The other reason that ranked high enough that it’s a concern of ours, they just didn’t turn in their papers for second semester, didn’t turn in their community service hours or forgot to send a transcript in and therefore did not receive funding,” Morton said.

Other reasons included students obtaining full-time employment and family illnesses and issues.

To address these issues and keep students in school, Education Services officials plan to assign a contact person to each scholarship recipient and will be visiting several universities throughout the spring 2012 semester.

“That will be a new service that we’re providing so that students who are scholarship students or students who are just interested in scholarships…there will be a person who they can talk to on a one-to-one basis,” Morton said. “And we are asking the universities that comprise the largest number of our enrollment in Oklahoma, their counseling centers to see if they can legally provide us documentation on the students’ progress. We would like to be a part of their intervention strategy.”

Morton anticipates that with the efforts that have been initiated the dropout rate will be significantly less.

“We think this needs to be a total effort on part of the Cherokee Nation and individual employees that know students that are in college to encourage them to stay because that first year is a social adjustment as well as an academic adjustment,” Morton said.

tesina-jackson@cherokee.org • 918-453-5000, ext. 6139

Education

BY STAFF REPORTS
06/14/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – A new bill signed into law June 12 allows Oklahoma school districts to transfer surplus land to the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation. Transferring surplus land will allow communities to grow and help their local school districts. Gov. Mary Fallin signed House Bill 1334 into law, which allows school boards to transfer land to tribal housing authorities. Two Cherokee Nation citizens authored the bill – Rep. Chuck Hoskin, of Vinita, and Sen. John Sparks, of Norman. “School districts often have undeveloped acreage with no plans to build and which is difficult to sell for market value. This law is a win-win solution for local school districts and for tribal governments. Tribal housing authorities can construct good, quality homes for tribal citizens and that provides economic growth locally as more jobs contribute to the local tax base,” Hoskin, who also serves as chief of staff for the CN, said. “This law will help so many schools, rural communities and Cherokee families prosper.” Another benefit is federal impact aid, which means school districts receive $2,800 per year for every tribal student living in a CN-built home. “The Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation is excited to see this law passed. We’re thankful to Representative Hoskin and Senator Sparks for drafting the bill, the legislators who supported it and Governor Fallin for signing it into law,” HACN Executive Director Gary Cooper said. “The Cherokee Nation has helped schools receive thousands of federal dollars in impact aid with the homes built since 2012 and that amount will climb even higher with the passage of this bill.” The tribe’s New Home Construction Program began in 2012 under Principal Chief Bill John Baker. The tribe has built more than 660 homes since then, and about 100 are under construction in northeast Oklahoma. For more information on the bill, visit <a href="http://www.okhouse.gov" target="_blank">www.okhouse.gov</a>. For more information on the New Home Construction Program, visit <a href="http://www.hacn.org" target="_blank">www.hacn.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
06/13/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – More than 100 teachers from across northeast Oklahoma participated in science, technology, engineering and math training during Cherokee Nation’s annual Teachers of Successful Students conference. The sixth annual TOSS conference was held June 6-7 at Northeastern State University at no cost to the 140 teachers who attended. The two-day training included remarks by Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Tribal Councilor and Carl Albert State College Campus Director Bryan Warner and Chief of Staff and Oklahoma House Rep. Chuck Hoskin. It also included workshops on everything from reading strategies and using archery to finding STEM activities on a shoestring budget. “Many schools don’t have the funding to send teachers to fee-based STEM trainings, so the Cherokee Nation is helping these classroom teachers by providing them with free resources,” Warner said. “It not only counts toward professional development hours and enhances learning, but also helps students down the line in their jobs and career paths.” The tribe also awarded $10,000 total in Creative Teaching Grants to split among 10 teachers that can be used to start STEM projects in their classrooms in the coming school year. Cleora Public School’s second-grade teacher Deanna Gordon was awarded $1,000 and said she hopes it makes science more interactive for her students. “This grant is going to make it possible to make science different than what comes from the textbook,” Gordon said. “I am working on hands-on science experiments that involve butterflies and things that can get my students active in learning.” The teachers receiving $1,000 grants: • Tenkiller Public School’s Tonya Moreno for “Coding Station,” • Tenkiller Public School’s Samantha Davis for “Wonder Workshop,” • Pryor Public School’s Jeanine Clark for “A Smart Garden,” • Tahlequah Public School’s Josh Davis for “Engineering and Energy,” • Bluejacket Public School’s Tracy Mendez for “Put an A in STEM,” • Tenkiller Public School’s Sinea Girdner and Joleta Cole for “Butterfly Gardens,” • Stilwell Public School’s Angie Catron for “A High Altitude Balloon Project,” • Bluejacket Public School’s Shawn Martin for “STEM Lab Laser Cutter,” • Justus-Tiawah Public School’s Christy Sterba for “Classroom Robotics,” and • Cleora Public School’s Deanna Gordon for “Experiencing Science.”
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
06/06/2018 08:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Students with the Native Explorers program participated in various traditional activities while visiting Cherokee Nation landmarks on May 22-23 as part of the program’s mission to increase Native Americans in science and medicine. “The older generations had a lot of knowledge in medicine and we think we can contribute as Native people to the current medical world,” Native Explorers Executive Director Jeff Hargrave said. “If we can get Native kids interested in medicine we can hopefully get them into medical school and they’ll be doctors and return home to Indian Country and service their fellow citizens.” Founded in 2010 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Native Explorers is offered through the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa. It partners with educational institutions and entities, including the Cherokee Nation to encourage Native American youths to explore how their cultures can intersect with science and medicine. Barbara Girty, Cherokee Heritage Center board and staff liaison, said she helped craft a “specialized itinerary” for the group during its stay. “They actually slept in the houses in Diligwa Village on the ground, and it’s a one-of-a-kind experience,” she said. “They also took a tour of the different Cherokee Nation museums around town, the John Ross Museum, the Supreme Court building, the jail. They went over and toured the Native Gardens. They were immersed into the Cherokee culture, and we hope that this will help them in their future endeavors when they go on to become doctors hopefully in our (W.W.) Hastings Hospital (in Tahlequah) taking care of our own Cherokee people.” The Native Explorers also participated in archery, blowgun and stickball competitions, as well as ate at a hog fry and witnessed ceremonial friendship and social stomp dancing. Girty coordinated the visit with program co-founder Dr. Kent Smith, professor of anatomy and associate dean for the Office for the Advancement of American Indians in Medicine and Science at OSU’s Center for Health Sciences. Smith said nine students participated this year and represented various tribal nations, including Cherokee, Comanche, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Standing Rock Sioux. “The group is made up of undergraduate students as well as professional medical students and graduate students,” he said. “The medical students and the graduate students in the group serve as mentors for the undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing a career in science and medicine. Some of our medical students participate in clinical rotations as well as residency programs at W.W. Hastings with the Cherokee Nation.” Smith said program costs are covered for students, and in addition to the learning and networking opportunities students earn three hours of college credit from OSU. Cherokee Nation citizen Jacalyn Hulsey, an East Central University student in Ada, said he was eager to participate in the program. “It’s really important to me to be in this program because it gives me an opportunity to learn who I am and get more college credit than I’ve already gotten, and it allows me to interact with other cultures besides my own.” Hulsey said she knew before gradating high school that her interest was within the medical field. “I actually knew before I graduated high school that I wanted to be a physical therapist, and so that’s kind of where I’m going in life,” she said. “I would definitely encourage anybody to do this because it’s not just learning what I know already, but I’m getting to learn other stuff about different cultures I never would have known. It’s a very wide range of stuff we’ll get to learn.” The program, which ran from May 21 to June 1, visited educators from the Chickasaw Nation, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the National Park Service in addition to Cherokee Nation staff. The group also visited select environmental regions across Oklahoma t0 study topics such as anatomy and paleontology. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.nativeexplorers.org" target="_blank">www.nativeexplorers.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/31/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Northeastern State University’s Alumni Association has named Cherokee Nation citizen Kaylee Switzer, of Keys, as one of the 17 Outstanding Seniors for 2018. The Outstanding Senior recognition honors graduating seniors, nominated by NSU faculty and staff, who have made significant contributions to NSU through academic achievement, campus activities, community service, honors and awards. The Alumni Association bestows this recognition for the Tahlequah and Broken Arrow campuses each spring. All honorees received a commemorative stole to be worn at graduation, a framed award certificate and a one-year membership to the Alumni Association. Alumni Association President Andrea Tucker commended the seniors for their hard work. “The accomplishments of our 2018 Outstanding Seniors have far reaching impact on NSU and their communities,” she said. “On behalf of the NSU Alumni Association, it is a privilege to bestow this award on each of them, and we’re thrilled to be a part of their journey and desire to maintain a lifelong connection with NSU.” For more information, visit <a href="http://www.nsualumni.com" target="_blank">nsualumni.com</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/30/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation citizen and artist Traci Rabbit recently established an endowment with the Cherokee Nation Foundation that will benefit Cherokee students. Traci created the Bill Rabbit Legacy Art Scholarship in 2013 to honor her late father. Bill was a noted Cherokee painter who was also a Cherokee National Treasure. Through the CNF’s matching program, she was able to grow the scholarship funds and establish an endowment in its place. She said the endowment would ensure her father’s legacy would thrive through the development of future artists. “By creating this endowment, my family and I can rest assured that Dad’s legacy will continue to live on, even after we’re gone,” Traci said. “Our application varies from others in that it includes samples of artwork. This provides us with a better insight to the artist’s skill level and passion for creating. We hope this fund will encourage and enable artists to follow their dreams, and knowing that we played a small role in their success is the greatest honor we can give Dad.” The endowment will support one scholarship each year to a graduating senior, undergraduate or graduate student pursuing a degree in art, art education or fine arts at a four-year, post-secondary institution. The scholarship is payable to the university and can be applied to tuition, books, fees, housing or other education-related expenses. Applicants must be citizens of the CN or the United Keetoowah Band and reside within the CN jurisdiction. The scholarship is renewable for up to four years. “The Rabbit family has been a longtime supporter of Cherokee Nation Foundation, and we are beyond pleased to see them further their commitment in this way,” CNF Executive Director Janice Randall said. “We are honored to have the opportunity to help share Bill’s legacy and are thankful our board has allowed us to extend the matching program.” The CNF launched the “Leave a Legacy” matching program in 2016, allocating $100,000 to match gifts ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 on a first-come, first-served basis. In September, it reached its program goal and the board voted to continue matching qualifying donations beyond the $100,000, as funds allow. Limited funding remains, and those interested in establishing an endowment are encouraged to call Randall at 918-207-0950 or email <a href="mailto: jr@cherokeenationfoundation.org">jr@cherokeenationfoundation.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/23/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation Foundation is accepting applications until June 1 for the seventh annual Cherokee College Prep Institute taking place on July 15-20 at Northeastern State University. The weeklong camp will connect students with admissions counselors from across the U.S to analyze, prepare and complete college applications, identify scholarship opportunities and explore schools of interest. Participating universities include the University of Arkansas, Bacone College, University of California-Los Angeles, University of Central Oklahoma, Duke University, NSU, University of Notre Dame, Oklahoma State University, Pomona College, Rogers State University, Stanford University, Swarthmore College, and Yale University. CCPI’s curriculum, developed in conjunction with College Horizons and other participating university faculty, includes interactive sessions focusing on ACT strategies, essay writing, interview skills and time management. CCPI is free to CN citizens who are preparing to enter their junior or senior years of high school. Lodging, meals and testing expenses are also provided by CNF, Cherokee Nation Businesses and NSU. Applications are available at <a href="http://www.cherokeenation.academicworks.com " target="_blank">cherokeenation.academicworks.com</a>. For more information, email Jennifer Sandoval at <a href="mailto: j.sandoval@cherokeenationfoundation.org">j.sandoval@cherokeenationfoundation.org</a> or call 918-207-0950.