Hopi educators gather with Hopi Chairman to prepare for school year
POLACCA, Ariz. - Hopi Chairman Herman Honanie said educators should take the best part of Hopi and the best part of English to help make children the best they can be.
Honanie made the comments Aug. 7 during the Hopi Education Community Gathering in preparation for school starting Aug. 11. All of the schools on the Hopi Reservation attended the gathering at Hopi Jr./Sr. High School.
"Safety at school is primary and it's in your hands," he told the educators and staff members.
Honanie recounted how life has changed since he was in school. He recalled teachers shaking or pinching students. That would not be acceptable in today's school settings.
"You have an awesome responsibility. You have a job to do to secure the safety of the children, so take it seriously," he said.
Honanie said when students could say that everything went safely at school that it was a good day. He said he applauded teachers for going into this career.
"You're shaping minds. You have an important role. Hopis want their children educated and to be the best they can be," he said.
Honanie said teachers must do the mandates of their job. Any reports of student abuse or neglect must be reported that day.
He said he gives the teachers "high fives" for the coming year, but urges them to put their heart and soul into the job.
"Integrate, work, laugh and cry together," he said. "Don't lose sight of who you are here for."
Honanie joked that he has never been trained as a politician, but he knows that teachers are trained to do their best. He said Hopi and Tewa teachers should be leading the students.
"There is a lot at stake - The future of Hopi. We need to continue the culture and language," he said.
Dr. Noreen Sakiestewa, director of the Hopi Tribe's Education Office, said the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) recently received two grants. The first grant will help with replacing Ordinance 36, which governs all Hopi schools, but this was written when all of the schools were BIA schools, which is no longer the case. She praised First Mesa and Keams Canyon for recently converting, so all schools on Hopi are now tribally controlled.
The second grant creates three BIE deputy directors for the area. One for grant schools, one for BIE schools and one for the Navajo Nation. The deputy directors will be based in Albuquerque, N.M., and the Keams Canyon office will be closed.
Sakiestewa gave an overview of Arizona education stating that Arizona leads the nation in public school options and has some of the top public schools in the nation.
She noted that more than 50 percent of the high school graduates in Arizona go on to college.
"I have not achieved all I can in life. There is always more to do, learn and achieve," she said.
Sakiestewa encouraged all staff members to collaborate in order to build a strong foundation for the Hopi people.
"I welcome all newcomers to Hopi because Hopi is very accepting of all," she said.
LuAnn Leonard, executive director of the Hopi Education Endowment Fund, said HEEF has awarded $8.2 million in scholarships, but has $22 million more available. She said HEEF began a speaker series with Native American astronaut John Herrington last school year and will continue with the speaker series this school year.
Edgar Shupla, governing board member for Hopi Jr./Sr. High School, said everybody has a big challenge with the upcoming school year.
"Our students are fed well here, so they won't be sleepy during class. We're all here for the children so keep that in perspective," he said.
Dr. Gregory Sackos, superintendent of Hopi Jr./Sr. High School, said the purpose of the gathering was to show everybody the need to work together.
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