Tribal identity and values critical to Tuba City District student success

District officials continue to incorporate Hopi and Navajo language and history into daily curriculum

Dr. Wilson Aronlith, professor at Tsaile’ DINÉ College, talks to more than 150 students and community members at Tuba City High School about Navajo culture.  The group listened to Aronlith’s three-hour winter story telling presentation. Photo/Rosanda Suetopka

Dr. Wilson Aronlith, professor at Tsaile’ DINÉ College, talks to more than 150 students and community members at Tuba City High School about Navajo culture. The group listened to Aronlith’s three-hour winter story telling presentation. Photo/Rosanda Suetopka

TUBA CITY, Ariz. - Using the Hopi and Navajo languages and teaching about tribal history and cultural values has become a daily part of the curriculum at the Tuba City School District for students from kindergarten to 12th grade.

The teaching staff uses technology to help students access and be inspired by their own tribal heritage and language while teaching science, history and math.

The district uses language and cultural programs each school day including project-based learning and Promethean Board instruction with an immersion philosophy.

The Title VII Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) and the Indian Education Council (IEC) meet twice a month to make sure the district continues to help students master core state subject curriculum and learn Native values.

PAC and IEC also meet regularly with the district Native Studies Director Adair Klopfenstein to communicate with Washington D.C. and Window Rock education directors to make sure money slated for student and staff use is being used to support district wide teaching goals.

Both the PAC and IEC are submitting proposals for next year's grants, so tracking success rates in these program areas is critical.

The continued goal of moving towards full immersion in the classrooms, especially for Eagles Nest Intermediate School and also for Tuba City Primary, is in full swing this semester.

"We have had tremendous response to our open cultural presentations in the classroom which we open to all staff and community members who are served by Tuba City District," Klopfenstein said. "Dr. Wilson Aronlith's recent cultural presentation at Tuba City High auditorium was extremely beneficial to our students to help understand themselves and their transition into adulthood."

Klopfenstein said more than 150 students and community members attended the presentation and listened for three hours to Aronlith tell his winter stories.

"We hope to offer more of these kind of public evening presentations in both Hopi and Navajo language," Klopfenstein said. "Our Winter Solstice symposium also was a great success and brought both the Hopi Lavayi and Navajo language programs back to the forefront of our district goals and objectives, as it should be."

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