FARMINGTON — Dream Diné Charter School in Shiprock will be the first member of a new education network aimed at helping develop and operate schools to serve Native American communities in New Mexico.
The Native American Community Academy in Albuquerque launched the NACA-Inspired Schools Network on July 21. The network wants to establish 10 schools in Native American communities over the next three year.
The network provides an opportunity for educators and school leaders to commit to innovation in Native American education, said Kara Bobroff, the network's executive director and the principal of Native American Community Academy.
"Ultimately, we would like to see a collective of schools sharing their best practices and working in their community in the service of innovation and a commitment to engage the community," Bobroff said. "We're just trying to think on a local level, how we can work together on providing native education in a different way?"
The Native American Community Academy has been training fellows since 2010 to form the network. A Dream Diné employee was in the first group to complete the program.
Gavin Sosa, a Dream Diné governing board member, was one of two fellows to work at the Albuquerque academy and learn how the school operated.
"A big thing about what NACA did was allow me to learn about the process and guidance of the direction of the school," Sosa said.
During his year at the school, Sosa served as the academy's athletic director and worked with the administration on school policies and operations. That, he said, supplied a foundation for the school that would become Dream Diné.
One lesson Sosa said he learned was the importance of talking with parents and community members to gauge what they want in a community school.
Dream Diné staff have been meeting with students' parents before the school opens to understand their expectations, he said.
The school is scheduled to open on Sept. 2, two weeks after its initial start date of Aug. 18. Sosa said efforts to secure land behind the Shiprock Chapter house for a temporary portable classroom hit a few snags. A second chapter resolution was passed with specific language required for the school to install portable classrooms on the site.
Dream Diné will open with two kindergarten classes and one first-grade class. The school plans to add a grade every school year until it reaches eighth grade.