Fourkiller to attend Colonial Williamsburg Teaching Institute
LINDSEY BARK Reporter
03/02/2020 10:00 AM
First year social studies teacher and Cherokee Nation citizen Tiara Fourkiller teaches a seventh grade geography class on Feb. 26 at Woodall Elementary School. Fourkiller was one of eight teachers in Oklahoma selected to attend the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute this summer in Virginia to help enhance her teaching in the classroom. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
WOODALL - To help her teach American and Native American history from the perspective of those who lived it, Cherokee Nation citizen Tiara Fourkiller, a social studies teacher at Woodall Pubic School, was invited to attend the Colonial Williamsburg Teaching Institute this summer.
Fourkiller, a first-year teacher, is provided the opportunity after applying for a fellowship through the Oklahoma Excellence Foundation. She teaches sixth, seventh and eighth grades in geography and history.
“It’s a teacher institute in Virginia and they focus on early American history, Native American history, and it’s all through characterizations, roleplaying into actual colonial era people, discussing early documents and things like that. They only select eight people,” Fourkiller said.
She said she hopes to take from the institute learning the mindset of early colonial people.
“Especially with our location and where we’re at we’re in the heart of Cherokee Nation, I like to take everything in the perspective of Native American history. So, I’m hoping to take from that learning the perspective of the mindset of early colonial people what it was like for Native Americans during that time and bringing that back to my students,” she said.
She said it’s important to her that students learn their local history and Cherokee heritage.
“In textbooks and primary source analysis and things like that, we’re glossing over Native American history. I think it comes from a personal point of view for my children. I didn’t grow up learning all that much about my Cherokee heritage, and I find it’s important that my kids know their background, they know where they come from, and I want to relay that to my students. That they can find perspective in their Native American culture and their history in everything that we learn about. It’s essential to a lot of my students,” she said.
Fourkiller said in her first year of teaching, she’s learned new things every day and is excited for the challenges that come her way. In her eighth-grade class, she said they do projects based on the era they are studying, like the Civil War and the Trail of Tears.
“History to a lot of people is always boring. And I just try to bring in this nerdy, fun part to it to explain why it’s important that we learn history. It’s been challenging but I think that the challenge makes it more fun to be able to find how my students best learn, what’s going to be exciting for them and how to expand that as they grow older throughout the year,” she said.
Fourkiller will attend the institute June 13-19 with all expenses paid and said she is honored to go.
“Knowing I have the backing of my fellow teachers and my admin, to know that they believe in me, to know that I can do it, is really special to me. As a first-year teacher who’s still learning herself I thought that was a pretty big thing for me to be able to get, and I’m incredibly honored and excited and I can’t wait,” Fourkiller said.
(Full Disclosure: Tiara Fourkiller is the wife of Cherokee Phoenix Multimedia Specialist Josh Fourkiller.)
Lindsey Bark grew up and resides in the Tagg Flats community in Delaware County. She graduated magna cum laude from Northeastern State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, emphasizing ...