Brad Hall, a Blackfeet and Cree and a senior majoring in education, is one of just 25 national recipients of the fellowships for aspiring teachers of color.
"I continue to believe that teaching joins nursing and engineering as the top three most important careers in Indian Country, but students going into education have less financial support and fewer specialized Native programs than the other two," Hall said. "As a result, I think Indian schools are in red alert at this point because of a lack of teachers."
Hall receives up to $22,100 over a five-year-period that begins this summer and ends after completion of three years of public school teaching.
Hall will begin his fellowship this summer by teaching Native American plant science at the Montana Outdoor Science School.
"Science didn't start when the Europeans came here," Hall said. "It's always been here, but we have different ways of knowing (about science)."
Hall, who has been active in MSU's American Indian Council since arriving at MSU and has served as an officer, said he was encouraged and mentored by good teachers while he attended Browning High School and he would like to do the same to other students one day.
"I'm a big supporter that curriculum should reflect the students who are learning and an individual learning approach to teaching," said Hall, who has developed curriculum using Indian Education for All standards. He says he applauds Indian Education for All, calling it "a positive step for Indian students because they see themselves in their educational process."
Conversely, Hall says he continues to be "appalled about the lack of support for Indian students (in schools and campuses)."
Hall plans to graduate from MSU in education in 2009 with a major in education and minor in museum studies. Last summer Hall was an intern at the National Museum of the American Indian, a part of the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., where he helped develop curriculum based on the buffalo in Native culture. After he graduates from MSU, Hall plans to attend graduate school, perhaps at the University of Oregon.
After fulfilling his Rockefeller commitment to teach three years at a public school, Hall would like to teach at a majority native school, but not necessarily in his own community.
"I will return to Browning," Hall said. "I'm certain of that. But before I do, I'd like to experience and learn from other situations and bring back what I learn.
"We Native students need Native role models. I want to teach in a Native community because that's where I can do the most good."
Jim Burns (406) 994-4880, firstname.lastname@example.org