Education Services to address student dropout rate

BY TESINA JACKSON
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
07/26/2016 01:00 PM
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Still recovering from damaging wind and a rainstorm in December, Bacone College recently suffered another blow to its campus and is looking for donations to help cover repair costs. According to a press release, college officials seek monetary donations so they can repair a dormitory and cafeteria that a small tornado damaged on July 14. The release states the storm ripped off the dorm’s roof displacing about 100 students and effectively closing the cafeteria. Online donations can be made at <a href="http://www.bacone.edu" target="_blank">www.bacone.edu</a>. To mail in donations, send to Bacone College, Office of Development, 2299 Old Bacone Road, Muskogee, OK 74403. To volunteer to help with repairs, call Pat Spinks at 918-781-7216 or email <a href="mailto: spinksp@bacone.edu">spinksp@bacone.edu</a>
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/23/2016 10:00 AM
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Interior on July 20 announced that the quarter’s transfer of nearly $500,000 to the Cobell Education Scholarship Fund brings the total amount contributed so far close to $40 million. The Scholarship Fund provides financial assistance through scholarships to American Indian and Alaska Native students wishing to pursue post-secondary and graduate education and training. Funded in part by the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations, the scholarship program is overseen by the Cobell board of trustees and administered by Indigenous Education Inc., a non-profit corporation created to administer the scholarship fund. So far approximately $2.2 million has been awarded in graduate and undergraduate scholarships to qualified American Indian students. Based on data gathered by Indigenous Education, the most recent Cobell scholars include 404 undergraduate students and 64 graduate students representing 89 federally recognized tribes. Applications and information concerning scholarships for the academic year 2017-18 can be found at <a href="http://www.cobellscholar.org" target="_blank">www.cobellscholar.org</a>. “With every new contribution, the scholarship fund will enable increasing numbers of Native American students across Indian Country to gain the advanced education and training that will help them meet the leadership challenges of the 21st century,” Interior Solicitor Hilary Tompkins, a Navajo Nation citizen who negotiated the Cobell settlement on behalf of the Interior, said. “They are pursuing their dreams, opening doors to new opportunities, preparing themselves for leadership and advancing self-determination for their communities all thanks to the vision of Elouise Cobell, whose life and legacy inspires and guides this noble initiative.” Cobell board of trustees Chairman Alex Pearl said: “The latest distribution aids our mission of carrying out the vision of Elouise Cobell to enhance educational opportunities for American Indians and Alaskan Native students. With the beginning of the new school year, we are excited to continue awarding the talented students in Indian Country. Our board understands the financial aid needs in Indian Country are enormous. These transfers provide an important foundation from which to positively impact Native students. We remain committed to creating a uniquely tuned scholarship program attentive to the needs and issues of Native students.” The Buy-Back Program was created to implement the land consolidation component of the Cobell settlement, which provided $1.9 billion to purchase fractionated interests in trust or restricted land from willing landowners. Consolidated interests are transferred to tribal government ownership for uses benefiting the reservation community and tribal citizens. The Interior makes quarterly transfers to the scholarship fund as a result of the program’s land sales, up to a total of $60 million. The amount the Interior contributes is based on a formula set forth in the settlement that sets aside a certain amount of funding depending on the value of the fractionated interests sold. These contributions do not reduce the amount that an owner will receive. Since December 2013, more than $760 million has been paid to individual landowners and more than 1.5 million acres have been transferred to tribal governments. Participation in the Buy-Back Program is voluntary. Landowners can call the Trust Beneficiary Call Center at 1-888-678-6836 or visit a local Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians to inquire about their land or purchase offers and learn about financial planning resources. More information and detailed frequently asked questions are available at <a href="https://www.doi.gov/buybackprogram/FAQ" target="_blank">https://www.doi.gov/buybackprogram/FAQ</a>. For more information on the Cobell scholarships, go to <a href="http://cobellscholar.org" target="_blank">http://cobellscholar.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/12/2016 12:00 PM
PARK HILL, Okla. – The Cherokee Heritage Center-sponsored Cherokee Humanities Course is taking applications until Aug. 9 for the fall academic semester at Northeastern State University. Through a grant from the Inasmuch Foundation, the CHC is providing tuition, books, child care and transportation at no cost to qualified students. Students may take the course in the fall and spring semesters for a total of six college credit hours in Cherokee studies. Priority is given to nontraditional Cherokee students not currently enrolled in a university and those considering returning to college. The late Dr. Howard Meredith, a former professor and head of the American Indian Studies degree program at the University of Science and Arts, established the course that replicates the original Clemente course offered in New York City by academic scholar Dr. Earl Shorris in 1995. It is designed to bring to light ideas and experiences that have remained quiet in general history books and creates a collaborative learning environment in which personal experiences and oral traditions are respected. These are interdisciplinary, college-level humanities courses offering credit hours through NSU. The classes are primarily held in the Osiyo Training Room behind the Restaurant of the Cherokees on the Tribal Complex in Tahlequah. For more information, call Tonia Weavel at 918-456-6007 or email <a href="mailto: tonia-weavel@cherokee.org">tonia-weavel@cherokee.org</a>.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
07/11/2016 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen LaNice Belcher, 18, recently graduated from Tahlequah High School and will attend Oklahoma City University this fall on several scholarships that provide her a “full-tuition waiver.” Belcher said she received a $110,000 tuition wavier after auditioning for the university’s Wanda L. Bass School of Music. She said she also received a $25,000 OCU Presidential Scholarship. “The thing was I was also academically strong, so they had to dial back my music scholarship because they wanted it to be known that…I had received the Presidential Scholarship. Otherwise, I have a full-tuition waiver for the school,” she said. Belcher also received a Cherokee Nation Foundation scholarship. “I also have several of the Cherokee Nation scholarships and other Native American scholarships.” While attending OCU, Belcher said she would play bassoon and other woodwind instruments. She said she also has an emphasis on piano and will be learning the fundamentals of percussion and brass. Belcher said she would be auditioning for the orchestra in August, as well as several operas and musicals. “They have about two operas and a few musicals every semester, so hopefully I’ll get to be in those pit orchestras,” she said. Belcher said she’s had an interest in performing in orchestra pits since she was a freshman at THS. “I had the opportunity at NSU (Northeastern State University) to play in ‘The Magic Flute,’ and so for me opera is a very large part of why I want to go to OCU because they are extremely known for their arts and their musical theater program,” she said. During her first semester she said she would be teaching at the music-based, after-school program El Sistema in Oklahoma City. “I’ll be teaching second and fourth year student’s music fundamentals. So I’ll already be a teacher making money,” she said. Belcher added that the opportunity to teach helps with her goal of being the band director at Sequoyah High School. “That is the overall dream, overall goal.” Belcher said she hopes to see success in her musical career so she can show that Cherokees go out and “make things happen.” “For me, it’s getting the stereotype out there that we (Cherokees) don’t just stay here,” she said. “We go out, we make things happen and we’re not just sitting ducks.” What is a Student Spotlight? A Student Spotlight is a 200-to-400-word feature on a Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band or Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen who is a student, whether they are in grades kindergarten through 12 or higher education, either excelling in school or doing something out of the ordinary. How do I recommend a student for the Student Spotlight series? To recommend a student, email stacie-guthrie@cherokee.org with the student’s name, contact information and a brief summary of why he or she should be chosen.
BY TRAVIS SNELL
Assistant Editor – @cp_tsnell
06/09/2016 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – With Oklahoma public schools facing massive budget cuts next fiscal year, Lee Ann Reeves, a Cherokee Nation citizen who teaches seventh and eighth grade language arts at Oklahoma Union, said she appreciated the chance to earn free professional development hours at the tribe’s Teachers of Successful Students conference June 7-8 at Northeastern State University. “At our school we offer our own professional development for us to get our hours, but a lot of teachers go outside of that to get enrichment,” Reeves said. “When the schools see something that is free they are all for you going.” Reeves said being a teacher at a school with Cherokee students she wanted to get more information on how to be a better teacher and how to incorporate more strategies in the classroom. “We have a lot of kids who have tribal cards that go to our school, and so I want to better inform them of some of the Cherokee Nation offerings,” she said. “It shows me different strategies I can use to reach the students who may need a little different way to reach them, strategies I haven’t seen before, I haven’t used, from my instructors as well as other teachers who are in the classroom with me.” Now in its fourth year, the TOSS conference offers professional development workshops for teachers at public schools located in the tribe’s jurisdiction. The tribe’s Education Services held the conference for at least 150 teachers at NSU’s University Center. Dr. Gloria Sly, Education Services education liaison, said the initiative is provided through the tribe’s Motor Vehicle Tax funding so that public schoolteachers can focus on areas where schools receive failing grades from the Oklahoma Department of Education. “It was based on the public schools’ need to have professional development in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) areas because that’s where a lot of them were really failing or receiving F’s, and so we thought we could assist the public schoolteachers and make it accessible to them in this 14-county area because our little schools have just taken cuts and taken cuts, and it’s harder for them to pay for their teachers to go to attend a professional development,” Sly said. She said the conference also focused on reading and had 79 workshops for five school groups: early childhood, elementary, middle school, junior high and high school. The workshops varied in length from 45 minutes to two hours, and the conference was completely self-contained for convenience, Sly said. “We keep them self-contained in this building from beginning to end because one year we tried it where they would have to go to another building for a workshop, and all those that traveled back and forth got lost. We ended up with a very small population at the end of the day. So now we keep them in one building,” she said. Sly added that the tribe pays for housing so teachers who have to drive longer distances don’t have to leave town or pay for hotel rooms. “We pay for housing for those that come from up north like Nowata, Bluejacket. They come down here and they stay in seminary suites. We pay for that. Northeastern is a partner. As a partner they give us a very good rate. So they’ll come in Tuesday night, the night before, and be here and leave the last day,” she said. Carrie Steele, a CN citizen and math teacher at Kansas High School, said she appreciated that the conference was free and a short drive for her. “There is hardly any free training anymore and especially close to home. We always have to go to Tulsa or Oklahoma City. Tahlequah is a great place to have a meeting,” Steele said. Sly said many teachers get most, if not all, of their professional development for the whole year at the conference. “Because they have to have 15 hours of professional development, we have 15, 16 hours here,” she said. “What it all boils down to is the achievement of a lot of Cherokee students. We want them to have the best education they can. In order to have the best education they have to have the best teachers. In order to help those teachers to be able to reach our students we do this.” Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said with the TOSS conference the tribe has assumed a role in giving teachers better tools to teach Cherokee youth. “As we prepare our citizens for a growing global economy, it’s critical to have a strong academic foundation. TOSS is a unique gathering because it is a chance to share what truly works in classrooms as we try to better engage kids and spark that interest in lifelong learning,” he said.
BY STAFF REPORTS
06/07/2016 02:00 PM
TULSA, Okla. – Three Cherokee Nation citizens were recently named Students of Excellence by the Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission during the 39th annual Tulsa Public Schools Academic Awards Banquet. Evan Barton of Booker T. Washington High School, Nikki Prince of Daniel Webster High School and Haley Neel of Tulsa MET High School were three of seven graduating seniors from the Tulsa area to receive the for their outstanding achievements in and out of the classroom. The Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission presents the awards to Native American students annually based on recommendations made by the students’ high school administrators and the Tulsa Public Schools Indian Education staff. The other 2016 Student of Excellence award winners are: • Chance Lamho, Muscogee Creek, East Central High School; • Thomas Scott, Muscogee Creek, Edison Preparatory High School; • Victoria Carney-Peters, Choctaw, Tulsa Memorial High School; and • Anthony Barnett, Muscogee Creek, Will Rogers High School. The Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission’s primary mission is the advancement of American Indian culture and heritage and/or the provision of services to American Indians.