Cherokee Nation Helps Nearly 200 Teachers with STEM Training

Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden awards Fort Gibson Public Schools teacher Mojah Hamner a $1,000 grant, with the help of Cherokee Nation Education Liason Gloria Sly.

Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden awards Fort Gibson Public Schools teacher Mojah Hamner a $1,000 grant, with the help of Cherokee Nation Education Liason Gloria Sly.

Published June 13, 2016

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA–The Cherokee Nation awarded $10,000 in grants so that 10 classroom teachers can now create a butterfly garden, build cardboard boats to race for a lesson on buoyancy, buy telescopes and start other STEM activities this fall.

Nearly 200 teachers attended the Cherokee Nation’s Teachers of Successful Students conference at Northeastern State University on June 7-8.

For a fourth straight year, the Cherokee Nation funded the conference at no cost to teachers. They learn to apply hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) activities and reading into everyday learning.

To culminate the conference, 10 teachers receive Creative Teaching Grants to start projects in their classrooms.

“We are committed to expanded educational opportunities in northeast Oklahoma. The tribe has assumed an essential role in giving public school teachers better tools to teach our youth, especially in the STEM universe,” said Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., who gave the welcome address at the conference. “As we prepare our citizens for a growing global economy, it’s critical to have a strong academic foundation. TOSS is a unique gathering because it is a chance to share what truly works in classrooms as we try to better engage kids and spark that interest in lifelong learning.”

Lori Kelly, who teaches fourth- and fifth-graders at Bluejacket Public Schools, said 21 of their teachers attended TOSS training.

“This is our favorite conference of the year because the breakout sessions are fantastic,” she said. “Kids now are so used to touching and doing things and jumping in, so all hands-on teaching is a better way to learn. A free conference is also invaluable for a smaller school. Just think of how much money it saves our school sending 21 teachers to free training.”

Sessions ranged from creating culturally based science curricula and trait-based writing to using smartphones to measure acceleration of gravity.

Maryetta Public School teacher Annie Kimble was among the 10 teachers selected from about 60 who applied for a $1,000 Creative Teaching Grant.

Her fifth-grade class will read about the Titanic and then build replica boats out of cardboard and duct tape to race in the school’s swimming pool for a science lesson on buoyancy.

“If we didn’t have the grant our students would’ve have to bring the money for the materials,” she said. “We’re thankful to get this from the Cherokee Nation.”

Other teachers receiving $1,000 grants include the following:

Leach Public Schools’ Tracie Hix to start a monarch butterfly garden
Bluejacket Public Schools’ Shane Wall for buying switches, electric boxes, etc., to prepare FFA and CDE students for competitions
Bluejacket Public Schools’ Shawn Martin to buy a telescope to study planets and stars
Fort Gibson Public Schools’ Mojah Hamner to create digital Native American stories
Tahlequah Public Schools’ Tiffany Cacy to record stories of Cherokee elders
Sallisaw Public Schools’ Chris Magie for students to record STEM library stories
Justus-Tiawah Public Schools’ Jennifer Kilpatrick for bringing STEM to kindergarten
Westville Public Schools’ Jolene Faddis for studying biochemical and lifecycles
Muldrow Public Schools’ Sherry Christopher to buy gardening tools, online math and science simulator.

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