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Uqautchim Uglua and education on the North Slope

September 12th, 2014 | by Devin Bates Print this article   Email this article  

Different kinds of teachers enrich our young people's lives in their own unique ways: Elders, mothers and fathers, coaches, school teachers, and more. While our schools have many caring teachers, far too few call the community "home." Have you ever considered becoming a teacher? It is challenge that will bear many rewards: The joy felt when the child has learned a new skill; the relationship that develops between the teacher and student; the knowledge that you have made a difference in a child's life. On a very practical note, being a teacher means local employment and makes it possible to continue living your culture with its many traditions.

In partnership with the North Slope School District and supported by grants from the Kellogg Foundation (through American Indian College Fund) and Alaska Native Education Programming, Iḷisaġvik College started the Uqautchim Uglua (Language Nest) initiative in 2011. During the past three years the College established a licensed immersion Early Childcare Center in Barrow and developed the Iñupiaq Early Learning Degree to increase the number of Iñupiaq teachers for the region's youngest students. The Center offers a nurturing, Iñupiaq learning environment for two and three-year olds and also functions as a lab school for the future teachers.

Iḷisaġvik's Iñupiaq Early Learning degree program provides students with a course of study that includes many real-life learning experiences. For example, in the Barrow Language Nest (Early Childcare Center), students have the opportunity to work with children from the very beginning and actively learn under the guidance of the Center's staff and participating elders. As they progress towards their degree, students, both in Barrow and the villages, will also be mentored by a master teacher from their own community's school. For those not wanting to relocate to Barrow, classes are available from the villages through multiple formats: online, teleconference, c-live, or a combination of those.

Iḷisaġvik invites the North Slope community to explore the Iñupiaq Early Learning program and encourage those around you to consider education as a career option. The need for local teachers is great! Perhaps you would like to learn how to share your culture? Learn your language? Are you interested in working on creative, hands-on projects? Do you enjoy being with people, both children and adults? We hope to start a conversation with you as you consider whether or not becoming a teacher may be the path for you! Call us and find out more: Heidi Ahsoak (Language Nest Coordinator) - 852-8181; Jerica Aamodt (Iñupiaq Studies Coordinator) - 852----; Tennessee Judkins (Recruiter) - or call our operator who will connect you with our staff (852-3333). We look forward to hearing from you!

Devin Bates is the Uqautchim Uglua, Program Director.


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