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The Importance of Training Teachers to Better Understand Their Native Students []


"Native American students make up 1.4 percent of the students in Washington state public schools. And they have the lowest graduation rate of any ethnic group, with just 56.4 percent earning a high school diploma in four years.

“I was that young person, I dropped out of school. I was one of those statistics of Native women dropouts,” says Dawn Hardison-Stevens, who is a member of the Steilacoom Tribal Council.

Hardison-Stevens, who at the time was a young mother with a 3-year-old and a newborn, says that a school counselor convinced her to get a high school diploma rather than just a GED. That extra push led her to pursue college, then graduate school, and then eventually to where she is today—working as program manager of the Native Education Certificate Program at the University of Washington.

Native people tend to be more interdependent than independent.

The program offers professional development for non-Native teachers, administrators, and other educators who work in Native American communities, including on the 29 Indian reservations in Washington."

[For more on this story by Bailey Williams, go to]

Photo: Associate professor Megan Bang helps children investigate tide pools along Puget Sound as part of a University of Washington partnership with Native communities to bring culturally relevant lessons and activities to youth. By Matt Hagen, University of Washington College of Education.

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