Aaniiih Nakoda College Newsletter
Fall 2015

Sara Hawley teaches at the White Clay
Language Immersion School

There is an old saying, "I learn something new every day!" This applies to most people on Mother Earth, and especially at Aaniiih Nakoda College.

Over the years, many students have graduated from Aaniiih Nakoda College with certificates and degrees in a variety of areas. Without instructors this would not have been possible. Teaching is an everyday occurrence at the college - instructor to student, student to student. College staff and administration learn something new every day. One must be open to lessons, listening and understanding.

We learn lessons from our parents, relatives, people in our community, and at times from watching nature. There sometimes is a calling for special people to not just learn but to teach.

Most teachers and instructors are givers of knowledge. They have a passion for what they do. They feel a desire to speak and teach about topics and a yearning to see the students' eyes light up with understanding. When this happens there is a shared bonding of delight for both the student and teacher - of seeing a concept and totally "getting it."

About four years ago, the Aaniiih Nakoda College Nee-tha-hatsa-nak/Wa'Uspe-Wicakiya Teacher Training Program, a cooperative agreement between ANC and Montana State University-Billings, became available for students to acquire their Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Reading. There were several people who became teachers; one of them is Sara Hawley.

She accepted the challenge of becoming a state certified teacher. Teachers are put through a rigorous course of study, one that takes commitment, fortitude, focus and strength of character.

This fall, Sara Hawley will teach fifth and sixth grades at the White Clay Language Immersion School (WCLIS). Previously, she has been teaching fourth graders for three years. Prior to that, she was a teacher's aide at the WCLIS, beginning in 2006. "Being a part of the teacher training program was a great experience for me. It was the opportunity that made so many positive changes to my life. I was able to pursue my dream of being a teacher without having to leave my family and my home," Sara stated.

Hawley added, "Having access to Aaniiih Nakoda College created so many opportunities for me. I was able to attend college and obtain both my Associate's Degree and Bachelor's Degree while staying in my hometown. This was important for me as a single mom because I often relied on my family to watch my son while I attended classes. Aaniiih Nakoda College also provided employment for me throughout my years as a college student via Financial Aid programs and internships with various programs at the college."

She hopes to one day go back to college and obtain a Master's Degree. Her short term goals center around her son, to see him graduate high school and get into a college of his choice. "I have many hopes for the future. My future is centered on his future. I want to be able to help him in any way I can so he can pursue his dreams. My hopes for my students are similar. I hope they are able to pursue their dreams, whether it may be college or something else they want to do. My goal as their teacher is to give them the tools they need to be successful in anything they set out to do. I also hope they become respectful individuals with integrity that cannot be deterred no matter what comes their way."

Hawley is determined to keep culture and traditional values and lifeways at the center of all that she does. "Culture and language are a significant part of who we are as individuals. Our ancestors endured the struggles stemming from the cultural genocide our people faced. Their fight was so we would not lose our culture, language and other important aspects of our American Indian identities. If we choose to let our culture and language perish, their struggles and sacrifices will be done in vain," Ms. Hawley commented.

Sara feels strongly about education and believes that attending college changes lives for the better, but it must be taken seriously. "Make sure you attend classes regularly. Perseverance is important because at times it will be difficult, but attending college is one thing you do not want to give up on. No one can make the changes you want to see in your life but you."

Teachers in the United States have a full-time job that often requires working late nights and weekends preparing class assignments, grading school work and participating in extracurricular activities. The teacher training program at ANC is unique in that it centers on the cultural aspects of American Indian students.

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Aaniiih Nakoda College
P.O. Box 159        Harlem, MT 59526