Cherokee Nation Foundation offers summer classes for immersion students
Cherokee Nation Immersion Charter School students appear on a screen during their June 17 Cherokee Nation Foundation summer STEM Zoom, an online video communications platform, class. The classes are taught by Vicky Bangle, immersion school teacher and CNF STEM coordinator. STACIE BOSTON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation Immersion Charter School teacher and Cherokee Nation Foundation Coordinator Vicky Bangle sits in front of other immersion school teachers as she leads the June 17 CNF summer STEM Zoom, an online video communications platform, class. STACIE BOSTON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Shown is a tower built of spaghetti noodles and marshmallows. During Cherokee Nation Foundation summer STEM Zoom, an online video communications platform, classes Cherokee Nation Immersion Charter School students have also created drums and tried origami. STACIE BOSTON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
The Cherokee Nation Foundation’s five-year Native American Mentoring grant allowed the foundation to create a computer lab for the Cherokee Nation Immersion Charter School by providing new computers and furnishings. STACIE BOSTON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
The Cherokee Nation Foundation’s five-year Native American Mentoring grant also allowed the foundation to buy robotics equipment for the Cherokee Nation Immersion Charter School. STACIE BOSTON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation Foundation is implementing its Native American Mentoring five-year grant, which was awarded in October 2018, a little differently this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
CNF has taken to Zoom, an online video communications platform, to conduct classes with its focus being on science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. CNF is no stranger to Zoom, so when the pandemic swept across the world it was ready to keep the learning going through virtual means.
“When we first started our grant that was the first thing (ZOOM) we bought. So we were already in place,” CNF Executive Director Janice Randall said.
Randall said the Cherokee Nation Immersion Charter School and CNF have used the equipment since the school closed its doors in March to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
“These classes are going every Wednesday until the end of June,” said Randall. “It started to kind of finish out the school year and then we just went into fun stuff for the summer.”
During the June 17 class, students ranging from pre-school to seventh grade learned how to build a tower using spaghetti noodles and marshmallows. In previous classes, Randall said students made drums and tried origami.
“These are STEM projects, and to them it’s fun activities. I think they look forward to every Wednesday doing this,” she said.
Yearly funding from the grant is $325,000, and Randall said this allows the CNF to offer a free, after-care program to prepare students for Oklahoma Achievement tests.
“We are just trying to make sure that students not only have the Cherokee (language) but they get ready for the Oklahoma Achievement tests. They’re taught in Cherokee, but they’re still tested in English,” she said. “So, we just take 20 to 30 minutes a day and enhance.”
The grant also allowed CNF to provide the immersion school with a computer lab with new computers and furnishings as well as smart boards, robotics equipment and Oculus virtual reality headsets, which gives students a virtual way to learn and “travel” to places around the world and in space all from the classroom.
Randall said students in Betty Frog’s immersion class used the Oculus to learn Cherokee while virtually visiting a zoo.
“She uses the Oculus and she would have them traveling through, and she would say a Cherokee word for bear and they would have to find the bear and they repeated the words,” Randall said.
A main goal behind the grant, Randall said, is to supplement and help integrate whatever STEM-related needs the school has.
“By getting this grant we were able to do a lot of STEM projects, which they didn’t have before,” she said. “We’re trying to be supplement, whatever they (immersion school officials) don’t have that would help the kids. We want to be there financially to help them as well as the summer program, taking them on field trips. We want them (students) to really be excited about coming to school every day and not wanting to miss school.”
The grant is through the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition. There are 48 immersion students enrolled in CNF’s summer Zoom classes.
For information about CNF, visit cherokeenationfoundation.org