Native Education Certificate Program Ready for Next Wave of Educators

In August 2020, a group of 25 educational professionals including ESD administrators, classroom teachers, and district specialists, began participation in the two-year University of Washington Native Education Certificate Program (UW NECP) as a part of Washington’s R16CC State Service Plan.

This subset of learners is committed to expanding the capacity and understanding of our state’s ESDs and school districts through participation in the rigorous, graduate-level certificate program.

Educators in the program develop skills to work directly with Native students, families, and communities to begin creating public educations that recognize the value of place-based learning and Indigenous ways of knowing.

Summer 2022 will mark the conclusion of the third cohort and the beginning of the fourth of the first-of-its-kind program in the nation.

“The University of Washington’s Native Education Certificate Program combines a powerful cohort model for learning with an in-depth study of Indigenous ways of knowing and the vital intersections with public education,” says Capital Region ESD 113 Deputy Superintendent Dr. Andrew Eyres. “From the outset, we explored our assumptions and misconceptions of Native students, tribal structures, and sovereignty, and building connections with other schools and educational service districts.

“Each module encouraged us to push our thinking and engage in our local setting. The readings, discussions and assignments were grounded in place-based and project-based pedagogy. The professors’ passion grounded the cohort in land-based content with Native voices and academic research featured prominently.”

The majority-online program calls for educators who want to dedicate themselves to bettering the experiences of Native students, families, and communities in education. The goal is to understand the cultures and perspectives of various Native communities and establish a meaningful relationship.

The program culminates with an Experiential Project in which students develop proposals that are relevant and add capacity to the schools and communities they work in.

The program was born through 15 years of collaboration between tribal leaders, citizens, and the University of Washington. UW’s 22-member Indigenous Education Advisory Board reviews all content and information.

Teachers, district and tribal members, and other educators are encouraged to apply for the next cohort. The courses will count for 10 academic credits over the two-year period.

Those in the program will interact directly with colleagues and tribal advisors as they work through various Native-focused courses. Topics will include subjects such as Tribal Sovereignty, Native American History, Special Education and Native Learners, Cultivating Native Child and Adolescent Identity and Development, and more.

R16CC will once again be sponsoring an ESD-affiliated group to participate in the program. The sponsorship will expand to cover 30 people in the next cohort, up from 25.

“As a Native educator, it’s been great to see my non-Native colleagues across the educational spectrum learn various aspects about Native history and culture, as well as Native learning styles, communicating with Native families, and embrace ways to support curriculum that better serves all students regarding Native life (both historically and contemporary),” says one former member.

“I have really appreciated strengthening my knowledge around the history of Indigenous people,” adds another member. “Overall this course has really reinforced the need to alter the ‘history’ we are teaching students in our schools. In addition, the culturally responsive pedagogy has resonated with me in regards to how we instruct as well as how we envision classrooms and learning.”

Interested parties can find more information and apply on the UW Professional and Continuing Education website. The deadline for applications is July 2022.

Published March 4, 2022

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