The MAPS program at Holbrook Indian School (HIS) has four pillars: Mental, Academic/Artistic, Physical, and Spiritual. Each pillar is a fundamental component of our students’ environment and education, with specific and practical applications. Last month, we began a series in the Recorder covering our MAPS program by looking specifically at how we approach the “M” (mental health). This month’s article continues the series by looking at the “A” (academic and artistic).
In this issue, HIS teacher Anita Ojeda presents a summary of our unique approach to academics and the arts at Holbrook Indian School.
At Holbrook Indian School, we want our students to find wholeness. We’ve created a unique delivery system for the two essential subjects: English Language Arts (ELA) and Math. Many of our students have experienced a high level of trauma, which produces a phenomenon known as the affective filter. An affective filter makes it impossible for a student to learn and retain things. Each traumatic experience further prevents students from learning at the same rate as their peers.
When students arrive at HIS, we immediately test them to discover their reading and math levels. In order to meet their needs, we want to make sure we know the correct level for them to start. The data from the test scores ensure we place students correctly.
ELA and Math delivery systems
In a conventional school setting, teachers teach based on their students’ grade-level placement. Unfortunately, many of the students at HIS have fallen behind academically, and their needs don’t necessarily match up with the teachers’ areas of expertise.
For example, a high school English teacher won’t have expertise in helping students learn how to read. Therefore, we pair students who have trouble reading with the teacher who can best meet their needs. To do this, the entire school teaches ELA at the same time each morning. Students rotate between three different teachers, based on each student’s individual needs. We teach math to the entire school during one period also. This allows students to pair up with teachers who can best help them experience success.
As students accelerate their learning, our system allows the fluidity for them to move up to a higher level. This academic success boosts their confidence and enables them to experience success in other areas of their lives. Our data also shows how our system works to accelerate student learning. The longer a student stays at our school, the sharper the rise in their academic performance.
Art provides many benefits for mental health. Art also allows students to feel successful at something. A student might not read very well, but they might find success working with pottery. When our students find success at something, we try to nurture their talent. Their artistic achievements breed success in other areas of school. We want students to understand the value of creativity as a form of self-care.
Our indigenous arts class allows students to learn about indigenous art practices from various tribes. In order to build self-confidence, we emphasize the importance of learning about their heritage.
Next level placement
Juniors and seniors take the next level placement class every other year. We’ve discovered our graduates have a very low success rate in college. Many factors influence these statistics, such as poverty, family pressures, and lack of knowledge about how to take the next step. About 99% of our students come from families where no one has attended college. When they don’t have that background or support, they start college at a disadvantage. We want to help students learn the vocabulary of higher education and feel comfortable applying for scholarships and financial aid.
By Chevon Petgrave and Anita Ojeda