Dreamstarter Teacher is a grant program that gives educators working with a majority of Native students up to $1,000 each for a project to help their students learn. Meet the Spring 2017 Dreamstarter Teachers!

JoAnn Bishop

School: Institute of American Indian Arts
Community Served: All Nations
Location: Santa Fe, NM

Project: The grant will be used to pay for range fees at a 3D archery facility in Albuquerque, NM.  There are no local indoor ranges in their community.  The facility in Albuquerque offers a place to practice that simulates tournament conditions and targets.


Ben Bonga

School: Bug-o-nay-ge-shig School
Community Served: Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
Location: Bena, MN

Project: This grant will help fund one of the students in our Middle School Leadership Team to attend the Close-Up Program in
Washington, D.C.

Shannon Britton

School: Round Valley Elementary School
Community Served: Round Valley Indian Tribes
Location: Covelo, CA

Project: I will bring in local tribal artists to work on 3 separate projects into my classroom. The first project is to bring a local beader to teach my students how to do applique beading and loom beading.  Next, I will bring in high school Kyin-naal-del’ Club members to teach my students how to carve sticks to either play “Shinny” or the traditional Wailaki stick game.  I will also bring in a local weaver to teach my students how to weave either traditional Wailaki rattles and/or Yuki miniature baby baskets.


Toni Brown

School:Argonaut & Amador High School
Community Served: Numerous Miwok Rancherias
Location: Jackson, CA

Project: The grant will be used to provide an overnight trip to visit several Northern California Colleges with exceptional Native programs.

Tammy Bunn

School: Central Elementary
Community Served: Choctaw youth of Mccurtain County
Location: Idabel, OK

Project: I will use the grant to purchase class sets of supplies that will be available for active learning math lessons.  All students will have the items they need, not just those students who can afford to supply their child with items.  We will be able to better utilize hands on learning more often.


Charlotte Debo

School: Hugo Middle School
Community Served: District 8 of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
Location: Hugo, OK

Project: I will use these funds to buy reading incentive rewards. Every student in the school is eligible for Project “IDEAL” (Renaissance Readers).  The challenge is to motivate the students to read.  Rewards must be current and relative not only to students of different ages, race, and cultures, but also to the technological advances that all students engage in.


Thomas Draskovic

School:American Indian Magnet School
Community Served: American Indian Magnet School
Location: Saint Paul, MN

Project:  I have spent years building a library of culturally relevant books that students can read, as well as access their indigenous culture and history. By providing these indigenous resources, I am working to fulfill our community dream of offering a safe space for indigenous youth to feel personal and cultural pride. Support from this grant would be used to buy additional books that our team of five Native educators have identified.


Joe Dukepoo

School: Round Valley Elementary School
Community Served: Round Valley Indian Tribes
Location: Covelo, CA

Project: I will use the teacher grant to provide development training to the middle school students at Round Valley Elementary Middle School.  These development trainings are designed to provide a well-rounded understanding of overcoming our historical trauma to improve future outcomes of our students, similar to a mini-Gathering of Native American (GONA) training.


Tate Gooden

School:Igiugig School
Community Served: Native Village of Igiugig
Location: Igiugig, AK

Project: We will use the grant to purchase lumber and supplies for Igiugig School’s Agricultural Research Center Greenhouse.  This greenhouse will provide students experience with growing food, processing food, and selling food.  Igiugig School and community have been working together in agricultural pursuits.

Darrell Haaland

School: Sisseton Middle School
Community Served: Sisseton/Wahpeton youth
Location: Sisseton, SD

Project: We would like to get several small robots to show the students how they can code the programing and have the robots do what they want them to do.


Jessica Johnson

School: Ronan High School
Community Served: Flathead Indian Reservation
Location: Ronan, MT

Project: I will apply the funds to starting a new program within my school, which focuses upon having a voice within the communities that we live in.  This program will include a Montana Youth Legislature program and a Model United Nations program.


Jenelle Malone

School: Sechrist Elementary School
Community Served:
Location: Flagstaff, AZ

Project: I will use this grant to purchase 3 stability balls per K-5 classroom in my school. When students are able to move a little while they are learning, it helps them to have better concentration!


Lisa McRorie

School: Malcolm High School
Community Served: Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Bay Mills Indian Community
Location: Sault Ste. Marie, MI

Project: I will use the Dreamstarter Teacher grant to create a center based classroom for learning the social studies curriculum. This will include supplies such as atlases and journals for the students.


Connie Michael

School: Crow Agency Public School
Community Served: Crow Youth
Location: Crow Agency, MT

Project: I will use the Running Strong Dreamstarter grant to put into a place an entrepreneur program for fifth graders in order for them to develop a business plan and create a small business in our school. I will take students through the development (brainstorming, researching), marketing, and funding plan for the business they decide to open.

Alanna Purdy

School: Six Directions Indigenous School
Community Served: Navajo, Zuni & Hopi Youth
Location: Gallup, NM

Project: The funding requested would enable students and staff to visit the sacred site Mount Taylor, and provide recording equipment for interviews with stakeholders, recording Indigenous place names, and samples of environmental sounds for a student-produced podcast on the proposed Roca Honda Mine project. The learning goals for the interdisciplinary project these funds would support are for students to reflect on Mount Taylor’s importance as a traditional cultural property by recording the Indigenous names for medicines, ceremonies, stories, and place names associated with the site, interview cultural experts and Grants, NM community stakeholders that represent both side of the issue, return to the classroom to edit their recordings and incorporate them into a narrative on the issue representing the various perspectives they heard, and finally to share their findings with the wider community as a student-produced podcast.

Eileen Quintana

School: Larsen Elementary
Community Served: Navajo, Ute, Goshute, Paiute, Shoshone, Cherokee, Omaha, Hopi Youth in an urban setting
Location: Spanish Fork, UT

Project: We live in an urban setting far away from our homelands so access to elders is hard for us. I want to bring in elders to teach my students, and be able to pay them for their work. I would like to bring in community members who are knowledgeable about Native American language, arts, foods, medicines, music and dance for my after-school programs and summer school.


Sunny Real Bird

School: Pablo Elementary
Community Served: Flathead Indian Reservation
Location: Ronan, MT

Project: Funding will allow our Pablo Elementary to create a STEM camp for K-4 grade students in Pablo Elementary. The camp would allow students to be introduced to coding, NASA
education, 3D printing/prototype, and climate change.


Susan Shelton

School: Hugo Intermediate School
Community Served: Choctaw youth
Location: Hugo, OK

Project: We have had Special Olympics for four consecutive years. Our community has a high rate of poverty and  limited resources for our students to compete. We will use the funds to help pay for our Special Olympics student to compete in Stillwater.


Elizabeth Syria

School: Ibapah Elementary School
Community Served: Confederated Tribes of Goshute
Location:  Ibapah, UT

Project: We will use the musical instruments to instruct students K-6 on simple songs using bells and xylophones. We will also use the instruments to preform for parents/community members.


Cheryl Tuttle

School: Round Valley Elementary and High School
Community Served: Round Valley Indian Tribes
Location: Covelo, CA

Project: I will select up to 10 local Native elders, identify a subject they would be comfortable talking about with students and invite them to come into individual classrooms and share their knowledge with our students. Each elder will receive a small honorarium for sharing their knowledge.

Gabriela Veith

School: Tahlequah High School
Community Served: Cherokee Nation
Location: Tahlequah, OK

Project: I will use the grant for supplies to make our interactive notebooks more interesting.  At this point, I used what is available to me which means we use a lot of black and white.  I believe that students are attracted to colorful interesting looking notes.  Having supplies to do that would boost my students’ interest in the class.

Adriana Wahwasuck

School: Natchez Elementary School
Community Served: Pyramid Lake Paiute
Location: Wadsworth, NV

Project: I will use the grant for a community social pow-wow. This would not only be a way of mending broken bridges with the community but also to pass out much needed school supplies that students here cannot afford. This pow-wow would also be a venue for educational speakers to talk candidly with the students and the community.


RaeAnn Wanland

School: Summit Alternative High School
Community Served: Navajo Nation
Location: Flagstaff, AZ

Project: We will take 12 students on a 4 day service project, where we will camp on the ranch of an elderly Navajo family resisting relocation for the past 60 years.  We will spend our time herding sheep and doing other work projects on the ranch and the surrounding roads. We will have lots of opportunity to visit with, work with and have meals with the elders in the area as they share their stories.

Sara Zsenai

School: Cromer Elementary School
Community Served: Navajo, Hopi, San Carlos Apache, Chippewa Sault Ste. Marie, Choctaw of Oklahoma, Colorado River (CRIT)/Mohave, Cocopah, Cherokee youth
Location: Flagstaff, AZ

Project: Many young children with special needs benefit from hippotherapy, the use of horseback riding for therapeutic treatment. If we were to be able to send our children to “Horse Camp”, they would be able to work on their coordination, balance, and strength by riding the horses, as well as make a connection with the horses.  I will also implement a thematic unit on farms, and horses the month before we attend Horse Camp.