Meet the 2020 – 2021 Dreamstarter Teachers!

Meet Kelly Silk!

2020-2021 Dreamstarter Teacher Kelly Silk (Standing Rock Sioux) is a fourth grade English/language arts, math, social studies and science teacher at Whittier Elementary in the Great Falls, MT, School District.

Her Dreamstarter Teacher project is to provide flexible seating for every student in her classroom which will allow them to find comfortable seating positions which will make them more focused and productive during the school day.


Meet John Twichel!

2020-2012 Dreamstarter Teacher John Twichel (Sault Tribe) is a sixth and seventh grade STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) teacher at the Sault Area Middle School in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan.

His Dreamstarter Teacher project is to teach his students how to code and program a micro-controller called an “Arduino” to make a variety of projects, including how to pilot the underwater robots they made with his previous Dreamstarter Teacher grant using an analog joystick.


Meet Benjamin England!

2020-2021 Dreamstarter Teacher Benjamin England (Colville) is a K-12 fitness and health teacher in the Inchelium School District in Inchelium, Washington, on the Colville Indian Reservation where 90 percent of students are enrolled tribal members or descendants of tribal members.

Benjamin said he is using his $1,000 Dreamstarter Teacher grant to to purchase pedometers for the students to use this school year. The school system has decided to have students in class two days a week for the start of the school year and he will allow them to take the step counters home requiring them to walk 10,000 steps each day.


Meet Connie Michael!

2020-2021 Dreamstarter Teacher Connie Michael (Crow) is a fifth grade math, science, English language arts and social studies teacher at the Crow Agency Public School in Billings, Montana on the Crow Reservation.

Connie will be using her grant to build a curriculum to support a home economics after school program and provide them with the ability and knowledge to shop for and cook healthy foods while incorporating budgeting and measurement lessons. She will do this by involving elders in teaching her students about healthy eating from the plants provided by the land and inspire them to understand can empower them as well as provide employment in the future.


Meet Misty Krohn!

2020-2021 Dreamstarter Teacher Misty Krohn (Colville Confederated Tribes) is a reading, math, writing, science, social studies and social/emotional learning kindergarten teacher at Lake Roosevelt Elementary School in Coulee Dam, Washington on the Colville Confederated Tribes Reservation.

Her Dreamstarter Teacher project is to provide her students with more variety in books in her classroom library, and especially books about diversity. She is also going to use some of her funding to purchase “Book Buddies,” stuffed animals that her students can practice reading aloud to.


Meet Jenna LaViolette!

2020-2021 Dreamstarter Teacher Jenna LaViolette (Osage) is also a 2016 Running Strong Dreamstarter who is continuing to realize her dream of teaching Native-inspired ballet and dance in the public school system in Pawhuska Elementary School in Oklahoma where she teaches third and fourth grade students.

Her Dreamstarter Teacher project is to be able to continue teaching ballet during students’ physical education classes noting that since dance has been included in the curriculum she has noticed an improvement in their grades, and they are more focused and disciplined.


Meet Olivia Penny-Nicholson!

Olivia Penny-Nicholson (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians) teaches life skills to sixth, seventh and eighth grade students at Cherokee Middle School in Cherokee, North Carolina, in rural western North Carolina on the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians tribal reservation.

Her Dreamstarter Teacher project is to provide new culturally-appropriate books by Native writers so her disabled students can learn more about their culture, identity and history. She is also going to buy flexible seating for her students to create a better learning environment. She is also going to purchase craft and/or cultural items, such as beads to learn and practice beadwork on the school’s cultural sacred path days.


Meet Candis Yazzie!

2020-2021 Dreamstarter Teacher Candis Yazzie (Navajo) is a K-5 Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) teacher at Dzil Libei Elementary and Tsinaabaas Habitiin Elementary schools in the Tuba City Unified School District on the Navajo Nation in Arizona.

Her Dreamstarter Teacher project is to first have students understand the importance of frequent hand washing by using a glow lotion to simulate germs, then wash their hands to see how many “germs” remain. Then she will invite language/culture teachers, parents and community volunteers to teach how traditionally Yucca Root is used as a soap. The third component is that she will have the students construct a total of six portable hand washing stations that will be distributed to people in the community who do not have running water.


Meet Joe Dukepoo!

2020-2021 Dreamstarter Teacher Joe Dukepoo (Round Valley Indian Tribes) is a math teacher at Round Valley Middle School in Covelo, California, which serves the Round Valley Reservation, the second largest Indian reservation in the state.

His Dreamstarter Teacher project is to provide Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) enrichment activities for his students by bringing local artists into the classroom to demonstrate cultural activities to his students who will then demonstrate how cultural activities support their learning in math and other STEM areas.


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