“My dream is now a reality!”
Kelly Steever, an elementary school teacher at Red Cloud Indian School, said this when she received her teaching certificate this June from the American Indian Catholic Schools Network (AICSN) Holy Cross Fellows Program, which seeks to promote the education of teachers in American Indian Catholic schools.
The fellowship was formed by a partnership between the network and Holy Cross College. Steever is one of five AICSN Holy Cross Fellows—a group of passionate individuals who are pursuing further studies in K-12 education to become better teachers. AICSN hopes to partner with schools to enroll more teachers in the Holy Cross Fellows in the near future.
These teachers are already in instructional positions at their schools, but they are lacking their teaching certification, their bachelor’s degree, or both. The AICSN Holy Cross Fellows program was designed with the goal of providing teachers with an opportunity to take education classes to supplement the teaching they are currently doing in their home communities. The AICSN Holy Cross Fellows are able to remain in their full-time teaching positions, as the classes are offered for a three-week window in the summer and virtually during the school year. The number of credits needed to complete the program depends upon a teacher’s previous educational background.
Common themes motivated the various members of the AICSN Holy Cross Fellows to pursue further learning including a desire to grow as educators and contribute more to their school communities.
Nadine Moses, a sixth-grade teacher at St. Charles Apache Mission School in San Carlos, Arizona, said that the benefits she received from the reading and language arts classes made her more confident in her role.
“I’ve always wanted to learn how to better help struggling readers, and I feel like I am more equipped with different strategies and resources to do that now,” Moses said. “I am more confident as a teacher knowing that the things I’m learning and applying are research-based.”
Jon Riordan began his education career as a volunteer math teacher at his De La Salle Blackfeet School in Browning, Montana. When Riordan became a permanent member of the staff, his school encouraged him to pursue certification and a bachelor’s degree. He said the learning environment that is cultivated in the summer courses at Holy Cross served him well.
“While the Holy Cross teachers have their expertise, we have our expertise as well,” Riordan said. “I feel like that was really respected. It was more like a conference with collaborative learning than class time.”
The collaboration and sense of community has been an important part of the AICSN Holy Cross Fellowship for Gloria Alvarez—an elementary school teacher at Red Cloud Indian School.
“I was inspired by the group. We all struggle together,” Alvarez explained. “Everyone has so much success, but real struggles. To be able to share that and have that community is very beautiful.”
Similarly, Steever was enthusiastic about the content she had learned as an AICSN Holy Cross Fellow. She said that she is now equipped with “A variety of ways to teach the diversity of my students'' including “differentiation, scaffolding, growth mindset, and movement in the classroom.”
April Morago, a physical education teacher at St. Peter Indian Mission School in Bapchule, Arizona, said she gained confidence from her experience with the AICSN Holy Cross Fellows. Morago described the summer courses as her “personal retreat to grow intellectually.” She was eager to bring her knowledge from the program back to her school community.
“I am from where I teach,” Morago said. “I feel like I can bring this knowledge back to my community and funnel it down so that students are getting the best education that they can.”
The AICSN Holy Cross Fellows program will continue to provide professional development opportunities for teachers in American Indian Catholic Schools to grow as educators, build professional networks, and better serve their students.