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Building STEM Opportunities in Navajo Nation

Studies show more than half of Native American students currently lack access to the math and science high school classes they’d need to fill jobs in a STEM field. Additionally, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress 2019 National Indian Education Study, 66 percent of eighth-grade teachers reported that they’ve never integrated Native American culture and history topics into their mathematics lessons.

In an effort to increase culturally responsive STEM education in preparation for emerging careers, the Texas Instruments Foundation awarded a three-year grant to implement the National Math and Science Initiative's College Readiness Program in the San Juan School District in Blanding, Utah. Sixteen teachers took part in the NMSI’s Content Workshop trainings in Dallas and San Antonio, Texas, during the summer of 2022, with support to build AP courses to follow.

The grant from the TI Foundation complements the support for the Najavo Nation provided by employees at TI's manufacturing site in Lehi, Utah, including providing computers for students, water barrels for residents and other volunteering. 

At the National Math and Science Initiative, we believe STEM education is the greatest lever to unlock student potential, and help every learner achieve success in both college and career. Through building educator capacity in STEM, students in all targeted demographic groups see strong long-term outcomes.

Here are some reflections on the College Readiness Program from teachers in the district.

“NMSI provided amazing opportunities for the teachers in San Juan School District. We’ve had the opportunity to attend virtual learning classes, as well as in person conferences. Our teachers have been able to use many of the resources and materials to supply valuable learning activities for their students.”
Shannon Dewsnup, Science Curriculum Specialist

“I love it when there are things I can adapt and use directly in my lesson planning.  However, my favorite part was meeting other Biology teachers from all around the country.  It was great to collaborate!  In my group one of us was from Texas, one from Florida and one from Utah.  We each brought different perspectives but were also able to find many commonalities in the students we teach and the content we are trying to help them discover and enjoy.”
Julie Castellon, Science teacher

“As a veteran teacher going into a new school, the resources provided during both the virtual and in-person training have been much appreciated and easily adaptable. I felt that the training was very organized and professional. The lesson ideas were both rigorous and relevant. NMSI provided me with more than enough quality resources and ideas to get me through the school year!”
Wendy Haws, ELA teacher

"Over the summer, I organized the lessons by standard as they fit into the units I teach throughout the school year. Now, I can just grab a lesson that aligns to what I’m teaching and I chunk it into sections that can be completed in about 20 minutes and use these for my students who select the extension group. Because of this, my seventh-grade students have now been exposed to Calculus topics (and will be exposed to AP Statistics later on) in a way that they can grasp, and I think they are realizing that higher level math courses might not be as intimidating or out of reach as they thought they were. I have found the activities to be engaging and the right amount of challenging, and I love the conversations my students have had as they grapple with these problems."
Tamra Grover, Middle School Math

Interested in the College Readiness Program for your school? Contact us.