Grant strengthens teacher prep program in Native communities

August 24, 2009

An already successful Arizona State University program that enables rural school districts in American Indian communities to “grow their own” elementary and middle school teachers is adding more support services in Chinle and Sells, Ariz., to help local residents achieve bachelor’s degrees and teacher certifications. This expansion of the PDS-TENET (Professional Development School-Teaching Excellence Network through Educational Technology) program is made possible by a three-year, $1.28 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education Indian Education Program.

PDS-TENET, an initiative of" target="_blank">ASU’s College of Teacher Education and Leadership (CTEL), brings high-quality university coursework to future teachers in the Chinle Unified School District in the Navajo Nation and the Sells-based Indian Oasis-Baboquivari United School District in the Tohono O’odham Nation. PDS partnerships also are in place with several high-need urban districts in metropolitan Phoenix and districts in Douglas and San Luis, Ariz. Download Full Image

“Receiving this grant will enable us to make an outstanding program even better,” says Michelle Rojas, project director for the new PDS-TENET-WIN grant (WIN stands for “with Indian Nations”). “Through the WIN component, we can reach out to recruit and support Native American community college students and help ensure they are prepared to enter and succeed in the PDS program.”

The WIN grant will add academic advisors in Chinle and Sells who are familiar with Diné College or Tohono O’odham Community College coursework, transfer agreements and ASU prerequisites. Advisors will work with potential PDS students to ensure they meet PDS program admission requirements. Collaboration with both community colleges will ensure that required prerequisite coursework is offered in the evening, to meet the needs of working adults.

“The grant also enables us to provide support to potential and current students in skill areas such as math, writing, and test-taking,” says Coleen Maldonado, project evaluator for the WIN grant. “There are many talented potential teachers who possess strong intellectual capabilities, yet need additional help in boosting their math, writing and/or test-taking skills. Being able to offer tutorial support in these areas will benefit not only potential PDS students but current students who need to pass Arizona’s standardized teacher certification exam before they can receive their teaching certificates.”

Students in the rural PDS program, some of whom work as teacher’s aides in the Chinle and Indian Oasis-Baboquivari districts, take evening classes at school sites in their communities. Some PDS classes are offered through interactive videoconference technology. PDS also immerses future teachers in the school setting, providing three times the amount of hands-on, practical classroom experience as traditional teacher education programs.

“There is a severe shortage of American Indian teachers in Arizona, especially in elementary school districts with high American Indian enrollment,” says Franklin Elliott, ASU PDS coordinator for the Chinle PDS site. “PDS is playing a critical role in developing outstanding Native teachers to serve as role models for children in our community’s schools. And the program’s format is ideal for adults in rural areas who cannot relocate to a larger metropolitan area to earn their teaching degrees. I view this program as helping to put education back in the hands of the local community.”

“The success of the PDS program to date is an historic achievement for the Chinle Unified School District and ASU, and we are pleased to know that the WIN grant will provide additional support to help students succeed in the program,” says Jesus de la Garza, CUSD superintendent. Seventeen students in the first PDS cohort in Chinle received their ASU elementary education degrees in December 2007.

“Our partnership with the College of Teacher Education and Leadership has truly been mutually beneficial. CTEL is providing comprehensive assistance with regard to instruction, professional development, student and support services, and evaluation,” de la Garza says.

The WIN grant has another important benefit in that it provides students a living wage during student teaching, according to Sonia Saenz, ASU PDS coordinator for the Sells PDS site.

“The two Tohono O’odham teacher’s aides we currently have in our PDS program work two jobs to meet family needs. They will have to stop working when they enter the student teaching period,” Saenz says. “Many Tohono O’odham members cannot afford to stop working completely, and this is a factor that keeps them from furthering their education. The WIN grant provides them with a new stepping stone.”

Eligible participants in the WIN grant program are individuals who are considered to be Native American or American Indian, as defined by their tribal nation. Over the course of the three-year grant, 40 students will receive assistance through PDS-TENET-WIN.

ASU’s College of Teacher Education and Leadership launched the Professional Development School program in Phoenix in 2000. In 2006, PDS was expanded from metropolitan Phoenix to Arizona communities including Chinle, Douglas and Sells. A program was added in San Luis in 2008. PDS already has produced 35 new graduates outside of metro Phoenix, with another 63 students currently enrolled.

CTEL administers teacher preparation programs offered across all four of ASU’s campuses including Downtown Phoenix, Polytechnic, Tempe and West, as well as partner school districts all over Arizona.

Women's gymnastics unveils 2010 schedule

August 24, 2009

The Arizona State University women's gymnastics team announces its 20010 schedule. A Las Vegas showdown against two SEC schools, a home match against rival Arizona and a co-ed meet highlights the Sun Devils calendar for 2010.

The Sun Devils will open their season on Friday, Jan. 15, in Sin City to test their luck at the Lady Luck Invitational. A pair of SEC schools, LSU and Kentucky, will also compete in the invitational hosted by Browns Gymnastics in Las Vegas, Nev. The same weekend, the Sun Devils will head to the Bay Area to open Pac-10 competition against California. The Gym Devils will take on the Golden Bears on Sunday, Jan. 17 at 2 p.m. Download Full Image

Following their meet against California, the Sun Devils will open their home slate against in-state rival Arizona (Jan. 22). The next weekend, ASU will head to Los Angeles to compete against UCLA (Jan. 31). The Sun Devils host perennial power Utah on Feb. 5 and head to the Pacific Northwest to take on Washington the next weekend.

The Sun Devils will end their home schedule with three straight meets at Wells Fargo Arena. Opening the three-meet home slate will be Pac-10 power Stanford (Feb. 19). The Gym Devils will then welcome the ASU men's gymnastics club team to compete alongside them in a Co-Ed meet on Feb. 26. The Gym Devils will take on Oregon State during the Co-Ed meet. The Sun Devils will honor lone senior Kaitlynn">">K... Bormann during their final home meet against Central Michigan (Mar. 5).

A trip to Provo, Utah, will end the Sun Devils regular season. The team will compete against BYU on March 12. The Gym Devils will travel south to Tucson for the Pac-10 Championships (Mar. 27).

This season will be John">">John Spini's 30th as head coach of the ASU women's gymnastics program. The Sun Devil gymnastics program has produced 27 All-Americans in their history and have finished runner-up at the NCAA Championships four times.