Initiative brings Teach For America to the Gila River Indian Community

April 1, 2016


Christopher Lomahquahu

Gila River Indian News


The Sacaton Elementary School will host a unique teacher training program during the 2016 summer session.


In June when summer school starts, SES will be the host for the Teach for America Native Alliance Initiative teacher training program where a corps of teachers will gain valuable experience working with Native students.


TFA is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1989 and has spread to serve under represented schools across the country.


It has developed a portfolio of initiatives that support different groups of people, offering an opportunity to receive specialized training.


As for NAI, they have set their sights on building partnerships with tribal organizations, governments and tribal school systems to enrich the quality of education for the students.


The Tribal Education Director Issac Salcido said, “The goal is to have teachers from the TFA-Native Alliance Initiative have the opportunity get to know the Community and possibly return and teach at our tribal schools.”


He said the NAI program at SES offers the Community a look at what is possible and contributes to the student’s success by having an educator who is trained in being culturally aware of the students’ background.


NAI has have been involved in five other states since 2010 and is continually recruiting teachers of Native American or Hawaiian decent.


Since the program’s first year of 40 alumni, NAI has successfully brought 200 additional teachers into the classroom to begin teaching.  


Where the core principals of TFA remain the same as they are with non-tribal schools, NAI has developed a “Culturally Responsive Teaching” model to enhance cultural awareness in the classroom.


Additionally this process contributes towards the success of Native students in achieving better grades and test scores in core subjects like math and reading.


“It benefits both sides for the teachers and the students, because it provides [us] the opportunity to have well-trained educators here at SES,” said Salcido.


Teachers at the SES training this summer will be going out to other tribal schools across the country in the fall and TFA will consider assigning NAI teachers to schools in the Community the following year.


He said, “We are looking at each of the other schools in the Community as possible sites for teachers to be placed at during the 2017 school year.”


With the corps of students arriving at SES this summer, it will be a learning experience for both the school and the teachers, but most of all it is an opportunity to build a partnership of good will.