NEA American Indian/Alaska Native caucus to meet in New England

This is the seventh year members of the AI/AN caucus have gathered and the first conference held in the Northeast, said caucus chair JoAnn Harvey, a physical education teacher from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

MTA retired member Richard Shea, who is working on the planning committee, said a rich program is taking shape. The Saturday, June 6, general session will be held at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center in Mashantucket, Conn. Tentative workshop topics for Saturday and Sunday include Genealogy, Ethno Mathematics (and other learning styles topics) and Drop-Out Prevention Strategies.

The museum boasts “one of the more authentic depictions of Indian life in the Northeast," said Shea, who has Micmac ancestors. In addition to museum staff, he expects to draw from faculty at the nearby University of Connecticut as presenters. The Connecticut State Museum of Natural History will feature special exhibits for the conference.

MTA President Anne Wass will open the conference with welcoming remarks at Friday's dinner. NEA President Dennis Van Roekel will give the dinner keynote. Wass is one of only two honorary members of the caucus, said Shea. The second is former MTA President Kathleen Roberts.

"The graduation rate for American Indian/Alaska Native students is only 50 percent," said Wass. "That's why this conference is so important. It's an opportunity for educators to explore ways to honor all cultures and narrow the achievement gap for all of our students."

The AI/AN is one of several caucuses that comprise the NEA's Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee, said Harvey. The others are the Asian and Pacific Islander, Black  and Hispanic caucuses.