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With help of federal grant, new program at northeast North Dakota school is fighting future teacher shortages

The Native Youth Community Project aims to increase college and career readiness for Native American high school students in Minnewaukan by providing opportunities to start working toward a teaching degree while in high school.

New homes, the Minnewaukan School and water tower are located in the Streifel addition just northwest of Minnewaukan. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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MINNEWAUKAN, N.D. — Minnewaukan Public School is fighting teacher shortages by creating the next generation of teachers from today’s students. With the help of a federal grant, the school is implementing a program to prepare high school students for further education and careers in teaching.

The Minnewaukan Native Youth Community Project aims to increase college and career readiness for Native American high school students in Minnewaukan by providing opportunities to start working toward a teaching degree while in high school. In a press release on Monday, Sept. 19, U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., announced that the project had been awarded a $199,806 grant by the Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education from the Demonstration Grants for Indian Children program.

Superintendent Terry Brenner said the initial brochure gave “a false narrative” about the ACT scores achieved by Grand Forks students who generally take the exam in their junior year of high school.

The grant will fund the implementation of two dual enrollment courses at MPS in partnership with University of Jamestown, a student mentorship structure between MPS and University of Jamestown and college tours to nearby two- and four-year colleges. The classes are introductory-level teaching courses, and the mentorship program will pair MPS junior and seniors with students in Jamestown working toward teaching degrees.

Erin Lacina, director of professional learning and operations at the Northeast Education Services Cooperative, which provides services to school districts in northeastern North Dakota, says the shortage of teachers across North Dakota and the United States in general prompted the focus on exposing students to careers in teaching.

“When we thought about a dual credit opportunity and preparing students for, potentially, higher ed after their K-12 career, we thought about combining that with the opportunity for that teaching pathway if they are going to go into higher ed,” said Lacina.


The program will immediately benefit around 120 current students at MPS, but Lacina says it could help future North Dakota students as well. If some of the students who take the dual credit classes go on to get teaching degrees, they could “fill some of those teaching positions and continue to support our North Dakota youth,” she says.

The grant program is also a five-year grant, and the $198,806 awarded for the Native Youth Community Project at MPS is only for its first year. As long as the grant program continues at the federal level and the program continues in MPS, the Native Youth Community Project is expected to get $840,000 over the five-year period, said Lacina.

The Spirit Lake Tribe, University of Jamestown, Devils Lake Public Schools were also partners with MPS and the Northeast Education Services Cooperative in securing the federal grant and developing the program.

Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or iharbo@gfherald.com. Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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