Triumph in Tuba City
Tuba City Cohort Graduates 20 New School Counselors
After two and one-half years of study, 20 students will graduate in May with their M.Ed. degree in school counseling from Northern Arizona University. The students have participated in a special program that offered all required graduate courses in Tuba City.
“My mission,” says graduate student Mary Washburn, “is to bring better educational services to Native American children through appropriate counseling services and programs. My commitment is to offer appropriate age- and grade-level services that spark and nurture interest and commitment energy in children and provide them with the opportunity to use that energy to build a solid educational foundation. I want these children to see and seize opportunities that are unique and usually unavailable in the regular classroom.
“Unequivocally, the NAU distance-learning school-counseling program has been my inspiration to pursue these services,” Washburn continues. “NAU has offered me the structure and confidence to pursue my goals.”
The drive and determination of the Tuba City cohort was demonstrated through the consistent efforts made by the students to attend classes, conferences, and special training sessions. All of the students worked in community schools during the day and drove to Tuba City for class at night. Many students drove more than two hours each way to attend classes from their homes throughout the Hopi and Navajo nations. The 20 students completed their degrees while working and managing family, community, and tribal responsibilities.
“I earned my undergraduate degree through NAU Distance Learning and now my graduate degree,” says student Sylvia Nockideneh-Tee. “I'm pleased that NAU meets the needs of rural communities.”
The students gifted their communities with new and innovative educational programs during their spring internships. Their contributions were made through the development of new school orientation programs and innovative parent involvement programs ranging from Native American cultural activities to after-school reading services. The graduate students also helped design and deliver effective drug and alcohol prevention programs and made extensive classroom presentations on topics ranging from career awareness to the development of healthy interpersonal relationships.
The NAU students have been active as well in the development of preparation programs for students as they take the required annual standardized assessments. Several of the graduate students also acted as coaches, referees, and club sponsors for local school teams. Others helped organize college visitation programs for seniors in their respective high schools.
The Tuba City classes were made possible through a special grant awarded by the Ottens Foundation. The fund, managed by Henry Hooper, provided scholarships and support money to assist NAU and the College of Education in offering this unique, community-based program. The courses were provided by faculty that came from Flagstaff or through NAU’s digital video conferencing network. Besides close contact with faculty, the Tuba City program also provided the cohort with a resident advisor/coordinator.
Previous grant-sponsored cohorts were located at Chinle and Kayenta. The three cohorts collectively have produced 53 school counselors that are employed on the reservations.