Waadookodaading Institute Forms Educational Partnership With Lac Courte Oreilles
In an unprecedented move in Wisconsin education, the Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Immersion school, a division of the Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Institute, will unify with the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School, a local Bureau of Indian Education contract school. Although Waadookodaading has been located on the Lac Courte Oreilles reservation and has worked within the BIE's school campus for six years, it has until now maintained its charter through the Hayward Community School District.
The charter that was developed in order to open Waadookodaading fulfilled its initial intentions: Support an academic program that would create proficient speakers of the Ojibwe language who are able to meet the challenges of our rapidly changing world.
Over the last few decades, Wisconsin has been experimenting with charter schools but have yet to develop an effective policy that would ensure longevity of charter schools. Currently, the charter schools that have been afforded the ability to be fiscally viable are primarily located in urban settings.
Waadookodaading is unique in that it is one of the original Tribal charter schools in the state of Wisconsin and a large number of participating students are citizens of tribal nations. It is also a language immersion school, meaning that all of the core subjects are taught through the medium of the Ojibwe language. It is because of these reasons that Waadookodaading and the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe were uniquely positioned to reclaim educational sovereignty by forming a partnership between the two entities.
When asked about incorporating an Ojibwe language track into the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School, Lac Courte Oreilles tribal chairman Michael Isham, Jr., stated, “The federal government put millions (of dollars) into getting rid of our language and culture. This partnership marks a historical shift as federal funds will now be used to bring our language back.”
Mike Leahy, Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School Director added, “We welcome this opportunity to offer a second educational track within our school. It has always been the mission of Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School to support and promote educational excellence, especially in the area of Ojibwe language. We look forward to the addition of linguistic innovation that Waadookodaading brings to the table.”
Brooke Mosay Ammann, Executive Director of Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Institute, said, “this partnership is an opportunity to ensure the linguistic vibrancy of Lac Courte Oreilles and the surrounding area. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our many supporters over the last fourteen years. I would particularly like to thank Hayward Community School District Board and Craig Olson for their resolute support. We are looking forward to the many opportunities this new educational choice presents.”
Would you like to grow lettuce indoors during the winter? Two Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe 6th grade Gifted and Talented students did!
Sage Stands-Christianson and Rian Fleming designed a hydroponic experiment to grow lettuce in 4 different mediums. Each pot had the same measured amount of coconut fibers, but different percentages of perlite, and vermiculite.
Daily leaf measurements were taken to see which plant grew the most. After the experiment was completed, it was time to harvest the lettuce!
Sage and Rian shared their lettuce with their 6th grade class members and other teachers. An enormous salad was made with lettuce, cheese, sunflower seeds, and tomatoes. Many students went back for seconds, and they asked if lettuce could be planted again!
Rian, Sage, and the 6th grade class now have their sights set on expanding their hydroponic gardening to include lettuce, spinach, radishes, and perhaps carrots grown in an aquarium filled with dirt. The hydroponics activity was supervised by Linda Tennis, Gifted and Talented Teacher.
Extensive interviews were conducted over a two day period which gave tribal elders, parents, students, teachers, administrators, and board members the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings about the future direction of the school.
“Nearly all the feedback about the process and Mr. Leahy's responses to their questions has been extremely positive,” asserted Dr. Jonjak.
Leahy holds a Master's Degree in school administration from St. Thomas University in St. Paul, Minnesota. He has served six years as Principal of BaiBomBah School in Sioux Narrows, Ontario and five years as Principal of Onigaming School, Nestor Falls, Ontario. Both are First Nation schools.
Leahy's prior administrative experience also includes a Principalship at Lourdes High School, Rochester, Minnesota and an Assistant Principalship/Teacher Position at Columbus High School, Marshfield, Wisconsin. He is currently certified in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and Ontario and has taught Advanced Placement Psychology and Social Studies. His co-curricular assignments have included coaching basketball and baseball and advising student council and school newspaper.
Leahy's wife, Jesse Leahy, also attended several of the interviews and toured the LCO Health Clinic. She holds the distinction of being one of the first Ojibwe women in Canada to have completed medical school and is a practicing physician. Included in the motion by the Tribal Governing/School Board to approve hiring Leahy was an endorsement of this wife for consideration as a part-time physician at the clinic.
One of the first orders of business for Leahy will be to lead the screening process for a new school principal to begin second semester of this school year.
With the hiring of Leahy, Phase 1 of the transition process launched by the tribe and shared with tribal membership in August will be completed. Dr. Rick St. Germaine, Dulcie Rae Wolf, and Dr. Roy Jonjack were requested by the TGB/School Board to lead this initial phase of the transition, and significant steps have been taken to improve academic and cultural programs while laying the groundwork for career readiness pathways and a stronger co-curriculum. They will continue to assist with Phase 2 of the transition through December.
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