Learning never takes a break at Holy Cross College, and during the second half of June, six Holy Cross College Fellows joined us on campus to participate in two elementary education courses.
“They lived in apartments in Pulte Hall on campus and gathered each day for three and a half hours in the morning for one course, and three and a half hours after lunch for their second course. They participated in several field trips locally to support their coursework, and spent many hours in the evening completing assignments, individually and collaboratively,” noted Annette Romans, Elementary Education Instructor, Director of ENL Certification, and Director of AICSN Fellows. “By the end of the summer, the participants have formed a close bond that is carried through the online platform during the academic school year.”
“In my own reflection, it’s hard to think of a more meaningful experience of community building than these two and a half weeks with the American Indian Catholic Schools Network Holy Cross Fellows. Each participant brought such unique experience and authenticity to the group, and the way they worked together in solidarity was really inspiring. To witness individuals so dedicated to this community – as well as to their students – really is powerful. They left on fire to embrace and serve their students and to create community in their classrooms like the one they fostered here at Holy Cross,” said Will Newkirk, Director of the American Indian Catholic Schools Network.
The fellows are part of the American Indian Catholic Schools Network (AICSN) Fellows Program, a partnership project between the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) at Notre Dame and the Education Program at Holy Cross College.
“This collaborative initiative seeks to support teachers and staff who work in Catholic Schools on Indian Reservations, many of whom do not have a bachelor’s degree in education. Some teachers/aides at these schools have degrees in other areas, or some have begun college coursework but have not completed a degree. Many of the Catholic Schools operating on American Indian reservations are under-resourced and the schools recruit staff who are called to the mission of the school but who may not actually have teaching credentials” said Romans.
According to Romans, Holy Cross College provides two alternative pathways to teaching and licensure by offering both a Bachelor of Arts completion program in elementary education and a Transition-to-Teaching Program for those with an existing bachelor’s degree in another area of study. Participants come to the campus over the summer for an intense 2 to 3-week academic session in which they earn 6 college credits toward their degree or licensure. They continue taking courses remotely through an online platform offered by the College.
The teachers work through coursework over a period of years and an effort is made to follow a cohort model such that the teachers in the program can develop a deep connection with one another. We are blessed to have launched our third cohort this summer and can see the fruits of this initiative as we have participants who will be completing the program at the end of the coming school year,” noted Romans. “This group of dynamic individuals embodies the tremendous hope and potential for those within the American Indian community. Some of the participants are first-generation college students, and others are seeking the professional development required to be able to provide an equitable education to the students they serve. This is a program that addresses a great need within the American Indian schools.”
AICSN and Holy Cross College continue to adapt the program to meet the needs of the diverse group it serves through this initiative.
“There are hopes of expanding outreach to be able to include high school students from the reservation schools in the Holy Cross College Saints and Scholars Program in the future. In addition, there is interest in providing unique professional development opportunities on campus during the summer session, for teachers at the reservation schools who may already be licensed teachers. There are so many wonderful possibilities to broaden the partnership between AICSN and Holy Cross College, and we look forward to embarking on this work,” said Romans.
Pictured is the American Indian Catholic Schools Network (AICSN) fellows and faculty at the Holy Cross College at Notre Dame, Indiana campus.
American Indian Catholic Schools Network (AICSN) group on the first day of meetings.
American Indian Catholic Schools Network (AICSN) participants doing an in-class children’s theater project.
American Indian Catholic Schools Network (AICSN) participants took a field trip to Fernwood Botanical Garden.
Pictured is the American Indian Catholic Schools Network (AICSN) group enjoying a celebratory dinner at the Holy Cross College at Notre Dame, Indiana campus.
Photos provided by Annette Romans, Elementary Education Instructor, Director of ENL Certification, and Director of AICSN Fellows.