Sealaska Heritage

NEWS_SHI to offer community of practice program to support Alaska Native teachers

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Project part of larger effort to cultivate, elevate and retain educators

July 25, 2023

(Apply) (Flyer) (About Indigenizing Education for Alaska)

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) is recruiting Alaska Native educators statewide for a new program aimed at supporting and retaining teachers.

The program, Community of Practice (CoP), will offer a safe space for educators to get support, share new ideas and best practices and connect with their peers.

The project is part of a larger effort to grow and retain the number of new teachers and to weave Native cultures into public schools, as studies have shown that Native students do better academically when they are exposed to their culture in class.

“Our Alaska Native teachers are doing groundbreaking work in teaching Indigenous students through a cultural world view, but that work can be lonely,” said SHI President Rosita Worl, Ph.D. “We want to support the work they are doing, offer professional resources and connect them to each other.”

The term “community of practice” was first proposed by cognitive anthropologist Jean Lave and educational theorist Etienne Wenger in their 1991 book Situated Learning. It is defined as a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.

Through SHI’s CoP, educators will meet in person in September and enroll in a 3-credit university course developed and taught by Dr. Angie Lunda, an Alaska Native teacher, administrator and university professor.

Participants will engage in a nine-month research project documenting their growth as teachers, and that phase will culminate in a research paper that SHI will submit to an Indigenous education-focused, peer-reviewed journal for publication. The team will also present their paper at the Indigenous Education Research Conference at the University of New Mexico in April 2024.

Participants will continue to connect online for the duration of the project, which will run from September 2023 through May 2024. The deadline to apply is Aug. 4.

Educators will receive a stipend for completing the program, which will count toward professional development hours required of teachers.

About Indigenizing Education for Alaska

SHI is offering the program through its initiative Indigenizing Education for Alaska (IEA), which aims to increase the number of Alaska Native educators while also supporting current Alaska Native educators in Alaskan K-12 schools.

In addition to the CoP, aspiring teachers and education administrators enrolled in IEA are eligible for  scholarships at the University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Alaska Southeast and Alaska Pacific University.

SHI also offers full-time paid internships during the summer for future educators through IEA. The program provides experience for students entering grade 11 through college sophomores as a youth day-camp counselor with the support of a cohort.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.

CONTACT: Kathy Dye, SHI Communications and Publications Deputy Director, 907.321.4636,