In the spring of 2010, a group of students, faculty and administrators from the Education Department at Wagner College on Staten Island visited several schools on the Crow Reservation in Montana to study curriculum in Native American schools. At the end of the semester, the students made a presentation to the department about their experience. The presentation included a short video.
A few days later, graduating education major Sloane Herrick gave her own presentation on the Crow Reservation field experience.
WAGNER COLLEGE SERVICE-LEARNING PROJECT
Cross-cultural exchange with Montana reservation schools provides
Wagner student teachers with culturally diverse service-learning opportunities
Senior undergraduates in the Wagner College Education Department actualized the school’s commitment to service learning by traveling to Montana this spring (2010) to spend a full week on the Center Pole Crow Reservation. Together with Staten Island’s Red Storm Drum and Dance Troupe and education professors and staff, student teachers who are enrolled in their capstone civic-innovation course visited the reservation schools and communities, attended cultural events -- including Native American drumming, enactments of folk tales, and a pow-wow -- and experienced some of the spiritual practices integral to Native American culture. As Native American community members and Wagner students, faculty and staff shared cultural perspectives during group dinners and study circles, the Wagner student teachers absorbed valuable information about Native American culture and how it can be used to enrich teaching and learning. Student teachers conducted a "Readers Theater," sharing teaching strategies and techniques, and had the opportunity to speak to community members while assisting with the delivery of food to those in need. Using what they have experienced, the student teachers are currently in the process of developing a technologically rich, literacy-based curriculum that focuses on Native American culture. That curriculum will be shared with classroom teachers in Staten Island schools and in Montana.
The project stems from an innovative framework developed by education professors Katia Gonzalez Acquaro and Rhoda Frumkin and department staff member Susan Rosenberg. That framework linked service learning with reflective practices. It utilized study circles and technology to engage students, community members and college staff in close partnership while exploring topics related to schooling, community and diversity.
In Fall 2010, Wagner’s Education Department plans to provide a free professional development workshop open to all K-6 teachers on Staten Island who are interested in learning more about the place-based curriculum that will be developed. This place-based curriculum will carefully consider community needs and context to utilize cultural traditions as the basis for academic learning.
The partnership between Center Pole and Wagner's Education Department is an ongoing relationship. This summer (2010), Wagner faculty and students will return to Center Pole to continue the process of sharing knowledge and practices and to assist the reservation with children's activities and summer camp projects.
This project is made possible in part through funding from the Verizon Foundation and the support and commitment of Wagner College Provost Devorah Lieberman and Stephen Preskill, chairman of the Education Department.
In photo, left to right: Sue Rosenberg, Prof. Rhoda Frumkin. Kelli St. Pierre, Melanie Rodriguez Lapman,
Elizabeth Brosious, Christie Episcopio, Prof. Katia Gonzalez-Acquaro, Sloane Herrick, Ashley Vanger