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Arizona Early Childhood Educators Attend First Annual Helios Summer Institute

Posted on: August 18, 2011

The First Annual Helios Summer Institute was held June 5-10, 2011 as part of the Prescott College Early Childhood Teacher Education Programs in Arizona's rural areas. These programs are supported by a four-year $608,000 grant from Helios Education Foundation focused on recruiting Native American, Hispanic, or other underrepresented population groups who are working with young children in Arizona's reservation and rural communities.

"The grant gives Prescott College the opportunity to redouble its commitment to serving individuals who are teaching or interested in teaching on the reservations and in rural Arizona," says Vicky Young, Ph.D., Prescott College's Coordinator for Native American Students.

The eight Institute participants are all female early childhood educators working on earning their Bachelor of Arts degrees at Prescott College. The women represent employment within the Yavapai Nation Library youth programs, Blackwater Community School, and Cocopah, Hopi, Navajo, and Toltec Head Start programs. Participants were Amy Borhauer (Hopi), Danielle Allen (Gila River/Akimel O'odham), Monica Torres (Colorado River Indian Tribes heritage), Veronica Gant, Louise Kaursgowva, Debra Sockyma (Hopi), Christina Solorzano, and Aurilia Calamity (Navajo).

The week-long Helios Summer Institute assisted current early childhood education (ECE) students with value-added faculty and staff support for their academic program. The cohort engaged in their first Helios specific course, Curriculum Building Through Cultural Literacy, developed by faculty member Wendy Watson, M.Ed., and co-taught with Vicky Young. Summer Institute participants developed strategies for place- and project-based ECE literacy curriculum that focused on enhancing bilingual instruction and honoring Arizona's diverse Native American and Hispanic cultures.

Workshops were provided on themes such as children and nature, nutrition and cooking with indigenous and local foods, the creative and dramatic arts, enhancing bilingual instruction, community traditions, and academic research, technology and writing. Presenters included Dr. Terril Shorb, Dr. Jan Kempster, Luana Mangold (Jemez Pueblo), Kistie Simmons, Michaela Willi Hooper, Chef Molly Beverly, Playback Theatre cast, and Anne Jacobsen, Yavapai College ECE faculty.

In commemoration of the first Helios Summer Institute, the group made individualized quilt squares that represented their communities and natural environment. These will be joined to form a Helios banner to celebrate their academic journey.

Supported through a limited residency model, the Prescott College Early Childhood Teacher Education Programs in Arizona's rural areas allow students to complete their degree or certification programs from their home communities, while working and maintaining a family life.

A limited number of Prescott College Helios scholarships will be offered through fall 2012 to new qualifying students seeking Bachelor of Arts degrees in early childhood education fields, with or without Arizona ECE teacher certification. Helios scholars must be Arizona residents from Native American, Hispanic, or other underrepresented population groups who are working with young children in Arizona's reservation and rural communities. Scholarships are $4,000 per calendar year, $2,000 per term for full-time students, and awards will be prorated for part time enrollment. Continuing students in good academic standing are eligible for funding through fall 2013.

For more information on Helios scholarships please contact Wendy Watson at wwatson@prescott.edu, (928) 350- 1013 or (877) 350-2100 ext. 1013, or Vicky Young at vyoung@prescott.edu, (800) 628-6343 or (928) 350-3200.

Category: Early Grade Success

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