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Save the Children’s Jennifer Garner, Mark Shriver meet with CCSD

Save the Children’s Jennifer Garner, Mark Shriver meet with CCSD

WINDOW ROCK – Award-winning actress Jennifer Garner and Mark K. Shriver, representatives for Save the Children Action Network, devoured traditional foods in Northern Navajo.

After a roundtable talk with Central Consolidated School District staff ended, Garner and Shriver enjoyed traditional Diné and stories.

They had chiiłchin, naadą́ą́ʼ dootł’izh tóshchíín, neeshjįzhii, and ch’il gowéhé/’ahwéhé. The cooks said it took eight hours to prepare the food.

“They tasted everything,” said Elfreda Harvey, CCSD’s social and safety net program coordinator for the Intercultural and Community Outreach Department. “Mr. Shriver had two bowls of stew. He loved it, and he didn’t even add salt. Jennifer really enjoyed the chiiłchin.”

“The rich history and culture of the Diné people is woven throughout the community,” Garner wrote in a forwarded email to the Navajo Times. “I had my first mutton stew, blue mush, and blue corn cookies (delicious!).”

Conversations with Garner, Shriver

Garner said she enjoyed the conversations with CCSD’s staff. They talked about how Save the Children, a national organization that offers early steps to school success programming within the district, could better help children in the area thrive as learners and in life.

Embarking on this one-day visit, Garner and Shriver listened and learned the importance of Diné culture and its livelihood.

“It was awesome, overall, to share our culture,” said Harvey, who connected with Save the Children a couple of years ago when she worked for the Chinle Unified School District.

“In our collaboration, we partnered with them (Save the Children),” Harvey said. “We started working on their donations and their support with our students through our food pantry and our clothing closet program.”

With its established partnership, Garner and Shriver also visited Bloomfield Municipal Schools.

This collaborative effort resulted in an in-depth partnership to foster aid in early childhood prenatal programs. This initiative will foster a working relationship with parents at home to help with literacy development and prepare children for school.

A meeting with Save the Children representatives occurred at CCSD’s Ojo Amarillo Elementary. Several district officials and administration attended the meeting. Harvey said no one knew Garner and Shriver would be in attendance.

“As of now, Save the Children has filled three positions in our schools: Ojo Amarillo Elementary School, Kirtland Elementary School, and Eva B. Stokely (Elementary),” said Jerrod Noble, CCSD’s public relations supervisor.

Jeremy Soulliere, Save the Children’s senior communications advisor, confirmed that the organization offers early steps to school success programming to the three schools.

A critical take on this partnership is to ensure that Diné culture is vigorous and thrives in these collaborative efforts. The district’s officials recommended that Save the Children embed Diné cultural language, teachings, and knowledge into their literacy program when working with infants and toddlers in the schools.

“They were very open to that,” Harvey said. “It was really neat to see how humble and down to earth they both (Garner and Shriver) were throughout this process.”

According to Save the Children’s website, Shriver is the president, having joined in 2003 and serving as a senior vice president for U.S. programs until 2013. Additionally, he leads efforts to ensure that each child in the U.S. has vital access to education. Garner, an actress in both film and television, has held the position of leader and trustee team member for the organization for over 10 years. She brings her level of expertise to early childhood programs across the U.S.

“They wanted us to paint a picture for them (of) opportunities our students have and how we work with them, with the family, and community in general,” Harvey said, referring to the district’s meeting with Garner and Shriver.

“Because of that connection over the past couple of years, they (Save the Children) have board members and leadership that do site visits in our district (with) partnered organizations,” Harvey added. “And because we were one of their partners in our district, they scheduled a meeting with us.”

Additionally, Save the Children partners with Central Primary School in Bloomfield.

CCSD Superintendent Steve Carlson said, “Central Consolidated is excited to form a partnership with the Save the Children foundation. Together, we can work towards alleviating the hunger issues faced by many children and families (and) look forward to continue working with such an established and respected organization.”


About The Author

Boderra Joe

Boderra Joe is a reporter and photographer at Navajo Times. She has written for Gallup Sun and Rio Grande Sun and has covered various beats. She received second place for Sports Writing for the 2018 New Mexico Better Newspaper Awards. She is from Baahazhł’ah, New Mexico.

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