Meet the 2018-2019 Dreamstarter Teachers – a group of inspiring educators who are working towards bettering the lives of their Native students!


Connie Michael

School: Crow Agency Public School

Location: Billings, MT

Project: Connie wants to strengthen and grow her school business by incorporating traditional knowledge into her program. She will plant a traditional herb garden for her school and help her students produce, advertise, and sell teas online and at the local farmers’ market. She also plans to invite elders to teach about native plants and harvesting traditions. Through this program, Connie hopes students will gain not only valuable work experience and cultural knowledge but also confidence and more positive outlooks on life.

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Jessica Tapia

School: Towanits School

Location: Porterville, CA

Project: Jessica hopes to improve her students’ literacy. She will use grant funds to provide them with books, fluency passages, and other supplies designed for creative educational activities to fit her students’ learning styles.

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Terra West

School: Ibapah Elementary School

Location: Ibapah, UT


Terra would like to help her students to improve their math skills. She plans to use the Dreamstarter Teacher grant to purchase subscriptions to a math tutorial program.

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Michael Clark

School: Menominee Tribal School

Location: Keshena, WI

Project:  Michael hopes to improve his athletic program, promote healthy lifestyles within his community, and help athletes reach their goals. He plans to use this grant to fix up the walking/running trail and bikes at his school. He will also buy more sports equipment for the community and provide his students with uniforms and healthy food for game days.

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Cheryl Tuttle

School: Round Valley Elementary

Location: Covelo, CA

Project: Cheryl will use this grant to invite four cultural presenters to teach her students about four cultural topics throughout the school year. She hopes that this will help the students to better understand their cultural and tribal history while connecting their life at school with their life at home.

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Jill Kessler

School: Cheyenne-Eagle Butte High School

Location: Eagle Butte, SD

Project: Jill plans to use the Dreamstarter Teacher grant to create a Holistic Self Care Corner in her office. The Corner will incorporate mainstream self-care resources with traditional Lakota resources to create a relaxing space for students and staff to practice self-care.

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Brooke Gregory

School: Chief Leschi

Location: Puyallup, WA

Project: Brooke will use this grant to set up a Maker Space, where students can make crafts using a variety of materials. She hopes this resource will help her to instill confidence, persistence, and creativity in her students.

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Sarah Groenwald

School: Chinle High School

Location: Chinle, AZ

Project: Sarah wants to design, build, and maintain a school garden with the help of students. After the garden is built, she hopes that teachers will continue to use it in their lesson plans, while students will gain more access to fresh fruits and vegetables for years to come.

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Courtney Torkelson

School: Kickapoo Head Start

Location: Powhattan, KS

Project: Courtney hopes to create a better and more comfortable learning and play environment for her students. Using the Dreamstarter Teacher grant, she will provide them with a literacy board, a reading area, and pretend play materials for her students—instilling in them an appreciation for learning and exploration in the classroom. Back to Top


Willamina Tailfeathers

School: Browning Elementary School

Location: Browning, Montana

Project: Willamina would like to improve her cultural immersion program. She will use this grant to provide her students with more cultural activities and provide more opportunities for students to use the Blackfeet Language throughout the school day.

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Tiffanie Lieb

School: Kickapoo Head Start

Location: Powhattan, KS

Project: Tiffanie wants to create a more comfortable and inviting classroom environment. This grant will provide funds for her to set up a rug for morning meetings, a reading area, pretend play materials, and other classroom supplies.

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Jennifer Schoelerman

School: Timber Lake School

Location: Timber Lake, SD

Jennifer would like to further develop her Native American Club and create more Native activities for her students. She plans to host a graduation honoring ceremony for her students and bring in speakers and guests.

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