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Education Briefs: Ground broken for garden hoop house in Torreon


With shovels dug into the backyard of the Na’Neelzhiin Ji’ Olta School, students, teachers, Family and Child Education staff, supporters and workers celebrated a groundbreaking Monday for the school’s first garden hoop house.

In a welcome address, Kenneth Toledo, long time principal, said, “We have a garden, but this garden will bring back true learning – science, language and culture for the students.

“We will eventually build a new curriculum,” he said, “to include the science of planting to begin with preschool FACE program and scaffold it up to other grade levels so all students will learn the importance growing local food for healthy people.”

As a new farm-to-school initiative at the school, Tyrone Thompson, owner/master gardener, brought his work crew from Leupp, Arizona, and said, “All Navajo schools must have gardens, so the students learn the life’s growing stages and eat better food. Children will better appreciate fruits and vegetables when they grow it, give to school cooks for the lunch program.

“This also encourages the school to buy local produce from local Navajo farmers and gardeners,” he said. “I have been building and training for many gardens and hoop houses on the Western side of Navajo Nation. I’m glad to be here in Eastern Navajo to expand my work for the children and people.”

Gloria Ann Begay with the Diné Food Sovereignty Alliance worked with school staff and board to bring funds, resources and experts to begin this first in a series of activities.

The garden hoop house is for students and staff to learn about gardening and how fresh fruits and vegetables lead to not only healthy kids but better learning.

Begay said, “Our organization partners with schools and other organizations as COPE, the Native American Agriculture Funds, and Kellogg to fund important projects to increase local food products, encourage local farmers to work with schools, and also review the school wellness policies to implement farm to school initiatives.”

Information: Gloria Begay,

NM Head Start programs awarded $17M

WASHINGTON – Almost $17 million was awarded to Head Start programs in New Mexico, including the Alamo and Ramah school boards, the New Mexico congressional delegation announced Sept. 17.

The Alamo Navajo School Board Inc. is receiving $221,400 and Ramah Navajo School Board is receiving $152,200.

Head Start promotes school readiness of children under the age of five from low-income families through education, health, social and other services.

Other awards include $2.1 million for the Laguna Department of Education, $2.0 million for the Pueblo of Isleta and $2.1 million for the Santo Domingo Pueblo’s Kewa Health Outreach Program.

‘Blue ribbons’ awarded to 3 NM schools

SANTA FE – Three New Mexico elementary schools are being honored by the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, which recognizes outstanding schools throughout the nation.

The schools are Mesa Verde Elementary in Farmington, Coronado Elementary in Hobbs and Mesquite Elementary in Mesquite.

The coveted blue-ribbon school designation, conferred annually by the U.S. Department of Education, honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools based on overall academic excellence or progress in closing achievement gaps.

This year, 325 schools nationally were selected.

Mesa Verde Principal Pamela Schritter attributed the honor to a community of educators and families who are committed to excellence.

“You have to credit our teachers for their growth mindset and just so much grit and stamina and perseverance,” Schritter said. “For all of us, it’s all about our students and their success.”

The three New Mexico schools will receive their awards at an in-person event Nov. 4 and 5 at the Gaylord National Conference Center in National Harbor, Maryland.

NPC holds ‘empty bowl sale’ to help fight hunger

Courtesy photo | Northland Pioneer College
The selection is varied of the empty bowls now available for sale at Northland Pioneer College’s Talon Gallery through Oct. 8.

SHOW LOW, Ariz. – One in four households in Navajo County and one in three households in Apache County do not know where their next meal will come from. That’s nearly 40,000 White Mountain area residents.

Arizona is tied at fifth in the nation for overall food insecurity.

Over the past five years, Northland Pioneer College’s Visual Arts Department has responded to the local need by hosting an annual “empty bowls” fundraiser. The event raised more than $5,000 for the Love Kitchen in Pinetop between 2015 and 2019.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, NPC has taken a break from the event. However, this year the college is inviting the community to participate in a “empty bowls sale” at the Talon Gallery on the Show Low campus through Oct. 8.

Magda Gluszek, NPC art faculty and director of the Talon Gallery said, “Over the past several years, I have accumulated a number of community-made and donated bowls, as well as several additional ceramic donated items and class demo pieces.

“I have displayed everything,” she said, “and am inviting everyone to come visit and shop.”

All proceeds go to the Love Kitchen to help in the fight against hunger.

Bowls will be sold for $10 each (unless otherwise marked). The Talon Gallery is open Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Information: 928-532-6176 or

FLC Theatre presents 3 plays

DURANGO, Colo. – Fort Lewis College celebrates Native American theater when the FLC Theatre performs three short plays exploring cultural traditions, origin stories, heritage and belonging. All three are written and directed by Native Americans.

In “Wild Horses,” a 12-year-old Tongva Native girl from Los Angeles takes a fantastic journey, through puppetry and characterizations, into her city and her family’s history.
“Chief Tender-Foot” has a problem … his feet! Is there a solution to his problem?

And can two wily bison outwit Buffalo Bill Cody? Find out in “Buffalo Tricks.”

Performances are on Oct. 15 to 17 and 21 to 23.



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