Dr. Carmelita Lamb

BISMARCK, ND — The Indian Professional Development Program, a division of the federal Education Department, awarded the University of Mary in consortium with Turtle Mountain Community College, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, and Turtle Mountain Community Schools (BIE), $1.4 million towards improving education of Native American students, promoting high-quality educators to teach, and bolstering the number of administrators in tribal-run schools.

Dr. Carmelita Lamb, associate dean of University of Mary’s Liffrig Family School of Education and Behavioral Sciences, and a team of university grant writers, spearheaded the proposal. Lamb says the money is allotted over five years beginning this upcoming spring semester that starts in January 2019.

“The overall goal is to support education in tribal communities and take the lead in supporting advanced degrees in education leadership. This grant award represents the mission of the University of Mary in servant leadership and community outreach,” said Lamb. “Our vision of a successful student is one who discovers a passion for learning and transforming their world, while maintaining the student’s unique tribal culture, identity and language,” stated Lamb. “The need across our state for teachers right now is great and especially on Indian reservations.”

Native scholar at Turtle Mountain Community School in Belcourt benefit from 2016 federal grant

Lamb says the University of Mary is currently in the rigorous process of selecting students: 19 or more Native scholars seeking a master’s degree in K-12 Administration or Special Education, and up to 24 undergraduate Native scholars seeking a bachelor’s degree in Teacher Education.

“The promise of recruiting Indigenous talent from the local community, who are invested in their home and people, has been a formula for success in teacher education supported by the Office of Indian Education (OEI),” added Lamb. “The current population of teachers and administrators approaching retirement coupled with increases in population has created a gap in qualified educational personnel in rural Native communities. This program will address this gap by providing educational resources and induction services for Native scholars entering and advancing in the education profession. Retention of Native American scholars pursuing bachelor’s and master’s degrees is of key importance, as low or delayed graduation rates are prevalent for institutions that serve Native students.”

Native scholar at Turtle Mountain Community School in Belcourt benefit from 2016 federal grant

Students will be awarded money to fund tuition, books, fees and professional development in those programs beginning in January 2019. All of those graduate students will be able to receive the courses online allowing them to maintain current employment in their community where they serve Native American children. They do, however, have the option of taking courses face to face on campus during the summer terms.

This project will expand and strengthen the existing partnership these entities already established when they received a similar $1.1 million federal grant in 2016.

The University of Mary in Bismarck is one of only 20 recipients nationwide to receive the federal grant and was awarded the largest amount.