John Price of Rock Hill, South Carolina, is an 8th-grade social studies teacher at Castle Heights Middle School serving the Catawba Nation who is using his $1,000 Dreamstarter Teacher grant to establish a Native American Enrichment program for his school’s Catawba student body population.
“Our goals are to take a holistic approach to serving the academic, cultural and mental health aspects of our Native American student population,” says John.
“For the month of November, our enrichment group, the Catawba Youth Council (CYC), has decided to dedicate the month to raising cultural awareness, through the promotion of Native American Heritage Month, and by serving our school community and the Catawba Reservation community,” he reported.
The CYC has raised cultural awareness throughout the school by sharing cultural facts, myths and cultural traditions on the school’s daily news program, where Catawba students created a segment called “The Catawba Corner” which highlights the group’s events, Catawba history and culture.
The CYC also honored the school’s veterans by organizing a Veteran’s Day recognition ceremony, making “Thank You for Your Service” cards, and even baked homemade treats for its many veterans which caught the attention of school district leadership and the local news.
Since then, CYC students have undertaken a canned food drive to benefit residents of the Catawba Reservation with the delivery of more than 2,500 canned goods and nonperishable food items to the Catawba Indian Nation Turtle Haven Food Bank.
In addition, the youth council purchased Native American children’s books and spent time with an ESE (Exceptional Student Education) classroom for students with disabilities sharing the Native American stories through read-alouds and completing Catawba language coloring pages.
“All these service opportunities were created, organized and carried out by our Catawba students,” John reported. “This provided the CYC students with great leadership opportunities.
“Students met with school administrators, teachers, and community members to carry out these service projects and in the process, learned valuable lessons about leadership, community service, cooperation and what it means to be a true service leader within the community.
“We just want to thank Running Strong and their generous donors for providing us with this incredible opportunity.
“I have worked with the Catawba community for over 10 years, and it is amazing to see these students to not only embrace this program, but to excel at all aspects of this program.
“This is truly a blessing.”
Note: On November 19 and 23, the school posted the remarkable achievement on its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/castleheightsknights/